Survey shows small business owners are bullish on 2013 growth prospects

Many small business owners think things are looking up, according to a recent survey conducted by TD Bank. The survey polled more than 500 small business owners across the bank’s Maine to Florida footprint on their plans for 2013. Here are key results:

• 49% say they are somewhat or very confident that their small business will be in better financial shape than it was in 2012, with 25% still unsure and 25% are not confident about their financial health.

• 47% are somewhat or very confident that they’ll exceed their sales performance from 2012, 31% are unsure, and 22% think sales will worsen.

• 59% intend to keep staffing levels the same, but 32% plan to hire at least one new employee, and only 9% plan to downsize their team in the year ahead.

Since the survey was conducted at the end of 2012, developments in Washington regarding the budget cuts that went into effect this week may have caused some small business owners to rethink their optimism. So how would you answer these questions at this point in the year? Are you feeling bullish about 2013, or not so much?

If you are hoping to grow this year, have you updated your business plan to make sure it includes all the action steps you’ll need to take to achieve the desired growth? When TD Bank asked small business owners in their survey how often they review and update their business plan, they found some business owners aren’t paying as close attention to this important document as they should. Thirteen percent said they only review their plan when they are applying for new financing, meaning they don’t recognize the value of a business plan as a working document that can be used to guide decision-making. Thirty-six percent said they review and update their business plan once a year, 30% said they do this every quarter, and 20% said they review their plan each month.

Having a good business plan is always important, but never more so than when you’re pursuing a growth strategy. So if you’re feeling bullish about 2013 – and beyond – you should probably join the folks who are reviewing their plans every quarter or even every month. The pace of change in business has never been faster and the competitive pressures on small businesses have never been greater. You need to have up-to-date strategies in place to support growth so make sure your business plan is a working document instead of just something that gathers dust on a shelf.

Here’s an article from the Small Business Administration on this topic: “How a Simple Business Plan Can Get You From A to Z, and Navigate All Things In-between”

And here’s a post from my fellow blogger Karen Utgoff that should be helpful on this topic: “Make the Most of Your Planning Efforts”

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