KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — While a majority of startup business owners do not believe the economy will grow in the next 12 months, 83 percent are nonetheless confident that their own profits will, according to the fourth-quarter Kauffman/LegalZoom Startup Confidence Index, released today by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and LegalZoom. The latter finding represented a 4 percent rise from the previous quarterly survey, conducted in July 2012, and was the highest confidence level expressed by entrepreneurs in any of the 2012 quarterly surveys.
Forty-one percent of entrepreneurs reported being very confident in future profitability in the fourth-quarter survey, compared to 39 percent in the third quarter. The number of respondents who were somewhat confident in future profitability rose from 40 percent in the third quarter to 42 percent in the fourth-quarter survey.
Sixteen percent of small business owners applied for loans or lines of credit in the last year, a number that remained unchanged from the previous quarter, but of these applicants, 14 percent more had their loans approved than in the previous quarter, a significant jump.
The youngest entrepreneurs – those 18 to 30 years old – exhibit the greatest optimism, as they did in the third-quarter survey. Among this group, 93 percent were confident or very confident that their businesses would become more profitable in the next 12 months than they are today. This number is considerably lower than in the previous quarter, however. Young people still show a rise in confidence from the start of the year, but from the third quarter to the fourth, there’s a marked drop-off.
“We believe these findings are important because entrepreneurial confidence could be seen as something of a leading indicator, as new and young businesses prepare to lead the next economic expansion,” said Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation.
Expectations for the U.S. economy rebounded from the July 2012 quarterly survey. Forty-four percent of startup owners now believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months, as compared to just 32 percent in the third-quarter survey, 38 percent in the second-quarter survey and 38 percent in the first-quarter survey.
“Over the last four quarters of tracking entrepreneurial confidence, the one number that has grown steadily is ‘intent to hire.’ It is encouraging to see it at its highest rate yet this year,” said John Suh, CEO of LegalZoom.
Nearly 40 percent of startup owners said they plan to hire additional employees in the next 12 months, which is the highest percentage reported in any of the 2012 quarterly surveys.
Entrepreneurs’ outlook for consumer demand also is becoming more optimistic. In the most recent fourth-quarter survey, 45 percent said they expect a moderate to significant increase in consumer demand in the next 12 months – 10 percent more than in the third-quarter survey.
The Kauffman Foundation sponsors the Startup Confidence Index surveys in conjunction with LegalZoom, the nation’s leading provider of online legal documents and legal plans to young companies. The findings are based on 693 responses to a nationwide, September 2012 survey distributed via email to LegalZoom clients who formed their entities within the last 12 months. The Startup Confidence Index is conducted quarterly to gauge entrepreneurial confidence.
About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people’s eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students’ math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org , and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn  and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn .
About LegalZoom.com, Inc.
LegalZoom is the nation’s leading provider of personalized, affordable online legal solutions for families and small businesses. Founded more than 12 years ago by attorneys with experience at some of the top law firms in the country, LegalZoom has helped over two million Americans become protected with binding legal documents. Although LegalZoom is not a law firm, it can help people access an attorney through its legal plans. The company is headquartered in Glendale, California. For more information, visit www.legalzoom.com .