While it may have been an unfriendly economic climate over the past few years, small business owners are hopeful heading into 2011. Sixty percent of small business owners polled said they expect their business to swell over the next 12 months, signaling not only good spirits, but a 6 percent increase over December 2008. That’s according to a recent Intuit, Inc. poll of 1,000 small business owners from across the United States. And what do SMB owners plan to do with the increased cash flow their businesses attract?
According to the survey:
- 56 percent will focus on retaining and growing current customers.
- 41 percent will look to expand marketing and attract new customers.
- 30 percent will look to reduce costs and save money.
It’s not surprising to see that many small business owners will be looking to use the surge of cash to try and attract new customers. One of the largest pain points for small business owners is often trying to keep a steady flow of customers. In fact, Intuit’s survey found that 54 percent of SMB owners experienced a declining customer base over the past year, with another 32 percent naming delayed payments as their sore spot.
Just because they’re having a hard time finding customers, though, doesn’t mean SMBs are necessarily being proactive about seeking them out. The survey gave some startling numbers about small business owners’ usage of social media–or should I say, their lack of usage.
While 71 percent of small business agreed that social media is an effective way to keep customers engaged, they don’t seem to actually be using it.
The survey found:
- 46 percent of respondents do not have a website.
- 91 percent do not have a blog.
- 67 percent of people do not use Twitter, Facebook or FourSquare.
So how are they promoting their businesses? Most continue to rely on word of mouth to get that job done. I guess we’ll just have to hope those surveyed are among the 75 percent of SMB owners warming up to social media in 2011.
One of the more interesting parts of the Intuit survey came when they asked small business owners to share their New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming year. It’s always good intel to see where small businesses are looking to go next and what they think will have the biggest impact on their businesses. Here’s where small business owners said they’ll be spending their time in 2011.
- 56 percent: Focus on retaining and growing my current customers
- 41 percent: Expand marketing to attract new customers
- 30 percent: Reduce costs and save money
- 29 percent: Expand products and/or services to make more money
- 10 percent: Invest in expanding operations
- 6 percent: Hire more employees
That’s where they are going. Below is where they would go if they had access to new lines of credit:
- 48 percent: Increase your marking and/or advertising budget
- 42 percent: Expand your range of services and/or offerings
- 32 percent: Invest in new technologies
- 13 percent: Hire more employees
- 11 percent: Increase your social media budget
How do Intuit’s findings compare with your own plans for 2011? Where will you be spending new resources next year?