Small business owners confident in their future; but the future of the economy…not so much

small business confidence survey

The National Small Business Association (NSBA) released its 2015 Year-End Economic Report today and the big picture is one that we have seen before: Small business owners are generally upbeat and confident in their own ability to grow, but they fear others may not fare as well in an uncertain economy.

I think this reflects a good attitude. On one hand, small business owners are showing the confidence required to move forward, but at the same time they recognize that economic conditions are such that many others could be stymied in their efforts.

There are some other very interesting specific insights in the survey, and I’ll get to those in just a moment, but first let me give you the numbers that back up the point I just made.

In December 2015 half of the small business owners surveyed said they thought there would be growth opportunities in the coming year. In addition to that number, 17 percent said they were already growing. Only 33 percent failed to see growth opportunities. Therefore, fully 2/3 are either growing right now, or expect to soon.

However, when sizing up the economy in general, that optimism fades. Only 20 percent said the economy was better off than it was six months earlier. About a third said it was worse and nearly 50 percent judged it to be about the same. And looking forward to the next 12 months, 58 percent expect a flat economy and 16 percent think we’ll go into a recession. Only 26 percent believe the economy will expand.

It’s interesting that within that general gloom, a strong majority of small business owners think they’re going to do okay. You have to admire that optimism – without it we would never move forward.

Perhaps the results of the survey’s questions on cybersecurity were the most alarming:

  • 58 percent had never been hacked,
  • 17 percent had been hacked once
  • 21 percent had been hacked two to five times, and
  • 4 percent had been hacked more than five times!

Taking down their website (25 percent) and suffering a service interruption (48 percent) were the biggest problems, but 20 percent reported that hackers got access to business credit cards and 8 percent said sensitive data was stolen. Further, the average estimated cost of these crimes was over $7,000 and when bank accounts got hacked, that shot up to some $32,000. It’s clear that the sinister hackers out there aren’t just targeting the big players.

Those numbers drive home the need for you and your team to stay informed on all the latest cybersecurity threats.

On the good news front, the survey reports that access to capital was at an eight-year high going out of 2015. Nearly three out of four firms said they were able to get financing. Other financial numbers looked good too: 57 percent had hiked employee compensation over the last year and 60 percent said they planned to raise wages in the coming year. As with the availability of capital figure, those numbers are the highest they’ve been in eight years.

You can look over all the survey results on the National Small Business Association website and why not book mark it and check back in a year to see if the predictions were accurate or not?