Showing Optimism

A new survey shows that, despite uncertainty heading into 2021, small and medium-sized business owners remain positive.

A new American Express survey published at the end of October reveals a high level of confidence and optimism from small and mid-sized business owners despite an economic downturn and widespread shutdowns through 2020. The inaugural American Express Entrepreneurial Spirit Trendexi surveyed 1,000 small and mid-sized business owners and 1,000 consumers. Eighty-one percent of the business owners believe the benefits of running their own business outweigh the current challenges, while 75 percent are optimistic that their business can recover.

Respondents cited financial stability (89 percent), being their own boss (88 percent), turning a passion into a business (86 percent), creating jobs (85 percent) and the flexibility to set their own hours (85 percent) as the top benefits of being a business owner. Having learned from the challenges in 2020, 82 percent said they are better prepared to handle a future crisis.

Using recourses and technology is now a priority to help business owners navigate through unprecedented times. Among the most sought-after resources are virtual business conferences and webinars (47 percent), virtual networking events (44 percent), advice on leading through a crisis (44 percent) and learning ways to destress and stay mindful (42 percent).

Money Matters

The survey shows that cash flow and money management are top priorities, causing business owners to cut back on spending and transitioning more services online.

The top four money management activities were:

  1. Increasing marketing efforts
  2. Increasing products/services online
  3. Cutting expenses
  4. Diversifying revenue streams

Making critical changes, sometimes incredibly quickly, has been a necessity for small business owners over the past year. Some have had to drastically change their business model either temporarily or permanently. The survey shows that 76 percent of business owners have pivoted their business model in some way, and 73 percent of those respondents say they plan to do the same in 2021.

Other Numbers

A Ceic Data study shows that United States business confidence grew 18.8 percent in November 2020, but that compares to an increase of 21.6 percent year-over-year in the previous month. Published in October 2020, the Wall Street Journal Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index shows that the proportion of small businesses projecting that economic conditions will improve jumped 15 points from the previous month, reaching 56 percent. It also shows that 24 percent of small businesses have brought all employees back to the workplace full or part time, while 40 percent have brought some back, and 6 percent are now fully remote.