Staples Continues its Conversation with Small Businesses to Uncover the Trends for 2010





Framingham, Massachusetts (PRESS RELEASE – February 1, 2010) – Whether it’s “sleepworking” (2008 survey results) or “deskfasting” (2009 survey results), results of the 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey continue to uncover that small business owners are working harder than ever. New trends this year highlight that small business owners admit to spending so much time at the office or thinking about business that more than half of the respondents (61 percent) say that they suffer from “ping-pong” syndrome. Symptoms include bouncing between competing demands – email, phone messages, bosses, employees, clients, family, and feedback from media and others on what you should be doing.

Other survey results include:

  • The majority of small business owners have yet to achieve most or all of their dreams for their company (77 percent). And more than 80 percent of small business owners admitted that they don’t monitor their goal-setting or enlist the proper “coaches” and advisors to help them achieve their goals.
  • Small business owners are optimistic about 2010. The majority of respondents plan to expand, diversify, and innovate in 2010 (44 percent) or maintain status-quo within their business (48 percent).
  • Those surveyed will continue to work long hours, with more than half (53 percent) of small business owners working more than 40 hours a week so that their business can grow. And respondents believe this trend will continue, with half (49 percent) of small business owners expecting to work the same amount as in 2009, and 47 percent planning to work more in 2010 than in 2009.
  • Among those surveyed, the most popular cost-savings tactic implemented in 2009 was stricter rules or oversight for expenses (41 percent). The next most popular was the reduction or elimination of business subscriptions (26 percent). Among those small business owners who implemented cost-saving tactics in 2009, almost two-thirds (65 percent) do not plan to lift them in 2010.
  • Respondents say that their biggest daily motivator is being in a business that brings satisfaction and pride (35 percent).
  • Company brainstorming sessions continue to be productive for idea generation (22 percent), but many small business owners find that they come up with their best ideas independently, while driving in the car (38 percent) or in the shower/bath (24 percent).
  • Many small business owners surveyed say that they “sleepwork” – a trend discovered in the Staples 2008 Small Business Survey and defined as working while sleeping or dreaming about work. Of those who are sleepworking, both 2008 and 2010 survey results confirm nearly 70 percent of small business owners say that they have brainstormed creative and usable ideas that have been implemented from their dreams (note, this question was not asked in the 2009 survey therefore there is no comparative data for that year).
  • Surprisingly, only one in five small business owners have a corporate presence on a social networking site and the majority of respondents (70 percent) are not blogging, Twittering, WebExing, podcasting, or using social media for their business. Small business owners do have personal Facebook pages (57 percent), but have yet to enter this space for their businesses.
  • Small business owners remain optimistic about their business’ success and the overall economic recovery. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents believe that business conditions will remain the same in May 2010.
  • Three-quarters of small business owners think that their small businesses will survive the next 12 months if the economic climate remains unchanged from December 2009.

Staples Makes Goal-Setting Easy for Small Businesses

To make it easy for small businesses to prioritize their objectives for the New Year, Staples is partnering with stickK.com to launch a new, one-of-its-kind program called Staples stickK to It! Business Challenge. Small businesses can log on to www.staples.stickk.com to develop goals, such as getting organized, greening the office, and saving money. Participants can track their progress and earn EasyPoints for completing steps toward their goals that are redeemable for Staples merchandise and services. The goals small businesses set in 2010, and their success in achieving them, is crucial to the small business community and the nation’s economic recovery.

About the Survey

For the 4th year, Staples conducted an internet survey among small business owners and senior executives.

  • The survey was administered on a national basis.
  • Data was collected from December 2-7, 2009.
  • Small businesses were defined as having 20 or fewer employees.
  • A total of 300 small business owners and senior executives were surveyed.

About the Survey

The survey was developed by Staples and conducted by Decision Analyst, Inc. in Arlington, TX. Decision Analyst surveyed by Internet a nationally-representative random sample of 300 owners and executives of American businesses having no more than 20 employees. All respondents were members of American Consumer Opinion online, Decision Analyst’s proprietary Internet-based consumer-opinion panel with over 7,000,000 members globally. Interviews were conducted from December 2 to December 7, 2009. Such a sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For more information about American Consumer Opinion online, please visit www.acop.com.

About Staples

Staples, the world’s largest office products company, is committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With 2008 sales of $23 billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, Staples serves businesses of all sizes and consumers in 27 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In July 2008, Staples acquired Corporate Express, one of the world’s leading suppliers of office products to businesses and institutions. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and is headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) is available at www.staples.com.

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