Survey Says: Business Owners Expecting a Happy New Year
The vast majority of entrepreneurs expect the economy to hold steady or improve in 2011. Plus, some surprising new findings about Twitter use.
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The New Year is upon us, but not everyone is celebrating. While small business owners see the future as bright, for the average consumer, the outlook is a bit cloudier. Here's a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.
Business Owners Looking forward to 2011
Good news for the year ahead -- most small and midsized business owners are feeling optimistic. So says the Small to Midsized Business: Plans for 2011 survey conducted by my company, GrowBiz Media, in collaboration with Web-based survey company Zoomerang.
The direction of the nation's economy is one of the reasons for the sunny outlook for nearly three-fourths of the business owners we surveyed. Thirty percent predict it will improve in 2011, and 42 percent think it will hold steady. When it comes to their own businesses, entrepreneurs are even more optimistic -- 50 percent expect their 2011 revenues to hold steady, while 34 percent are anticipating sales increases.
From everything I've heard (and of course being a Pollyanna), I think 2011 is going to be a big turnaround year for many small businesses. I hope you're ready.
Consumers aren't feeling quite as optimistic as entrepreneurs, however. According to BIG Research's December Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey, just 27.3 percent of consumers surveyed are "confident" or "very confident" about the chances for a strong economy. That's a decline of more than two percentage points from the same time a year ago (29.9 percent).
Despite that uncertainty, consumers are spending differently. In December, the percentage who said they were "becoming more practical" in their purchases declined to 45.8 percent, down from 49.5 percent in December 2009. And 52.7 percent say they are focusing on "needs" instead of "wants" when shopping -- down from 57.5 percent last December.
These numbers just reinforce what I said several weeks back about "frugality fatigue." While we won't be returning to our free-spending ways anytime soon (if ever), Americans are eager to open their wallets once again.
Who's on Twitter?
Twitter users are still a small percentage of the overall population -- just 8 percent of Americans use the service, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But those 8 percent are desirable customers for many reasons.
First, Twitter users skew young (14 percent are 18 to 29). They're also more likely to be urban (11 percent of city dwellers use Twitter, compared to just 5 percent of rural residents). Finally, a healthy percentage of minorities (13 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of Hispanics) use Twitter, compared to just 5 percent of whites. If your target customers are in these demographic groups and your business isn't on Twitter, you better give the social network a second look.