Survey shows optimism among small business owners for 2014

Last week I saw an article with advice on year-end strategies for saving money on your taxes. My first thought was, “It seems early to be talking about year end.” But then reality shook me by the shoulders as I realized that no, it’s not too early to be talking about year end. Indeed, it’s not even too early to be talking about your business plans and goals for 2014. A survey released in September offers insight into how U.S. small business owners feel about the rapidly approaching new year.

Hiscox, a global specialist insurer serving U.S. small released the findings of its fifth annual DNA of an Entrepreneur report in mid-September. Here are a few of the interesting findings of this survey of 500 owners of small and medium-sized businesses:

• More responding U.S. small business owners (50%) are optimistic about the coming year than they were in 2011 (45%); however, optimism is down from 2012 (55%). It would be interesting to know how this optimism was affected by the budget/debt ceiling fiasco that occurred in Washington a few weeks after the survey results were announced. I can’t imagine that it didn’t have at least some negative impact.

• Over the last 12 months, male small business owners reported 5% more growth in both revenues and new customers than their female counterparts, with 50% of male small business owners reporting revenue growth and 57% reporting new customer growth. However, the business growth gap that exists between genders has tightened by 4% since 2011. Moving on up, ladies!

• 34% of male small business owners worked on average between 40 to 49 hours per week, while female small business owners (also 34%) were most likely to work an average of 29 hours or less per week. This difference is supported by the different drivers for the men and women surveyed for starting small businesses. The majority of women (70%) cited “more flexibility over working hours” as the main benefit to being in a small business as opposed to a larger business or company. Alternatively, the majority of men (60%) cited “less bureaucracy” as the primary benefit of being in a small business.

• Women are using social media for a variety of business reasons, whereas men use social media tools primarily for hiring and recruiting. Specifically, women reported using social media tools for keeping in touch with customers (45%), as well as for communications, marketing or public relations initiatives (41%). Hiring/recruitment is the only area of operation where men are more likely to use social media than their female counterparts (18% and 7%, respectively).

• Despite the mainstream popularity of crowd funding, over 90% of male and female small business owners have not considered it as a funding option.

As you look ahead to 2014, are you feeling more or less optimistic than you were this time last year? What are your plans for growing your business next year? And are you thinking about new ways to mine the potential of social media to build customer loyalty and reach out to prospective customers? Let us know how 2014 looks to you and what your plans for growth are.


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  3. Women are using social media for a variety of business reasons, whereas men use social media tools primarily for hiring and recruiting. S

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