Small Businesses in the US Haven’t Been This Optimistic Since 2012

Fall 2017 Small Business Growth Index Survey - Small Businesses in the US Haven't Been This Optimistic Since 2012

To find a time small business outlook was this positive, you would need to go all the way back to 2012. The latest Capital One Spark Business Small Business Growth Index goes on to say current business conditions are good or excellent for 60 percent of small business owners.

Fall 2017 Small Business Growth Index Survey

Capital One (NYSE:COF) monitors small business sentiment on the economy, hiring plans, future financial positions and recent sales with its Small Business Confidence Score tracking. The latest data revealed the highest point since 2012, along with other concerns facing business owners in the coming year.

The index polled 500 business owners across the US in August, and it delivered much better results than the survey in February of 2017. The better business conditions 60 percent of small business owners responded to is 10 percent higher than in February. This goes hand in hand with the six percent increase (up to 37 percent) of reports indicating a better financial position than one year ago.

Nancy Mann Jackson, Spark Contributor, said, even though the outlook is positive it shows, “Business owners facing challenges and concerns about legislative topics. Taken together, the data paints a picture of what will be top of mind for business owners next year.”

The Positive

Forty-seven percent of the respondents said their businesses have increased sales in the past six months, a 10 point uptick from earlier this year. This particular data point was the highest it has been since the second quarter of 2013. But there is a 10 point disparity when it comes to male and female business owners. While males reported a 51 percent increase, the number goes down to 41 percent for females.

This positive news brought with it challenges small business owners pointed out in the survey.

The Challenges

Taxes are always or almost always a concern, and it is no different this time around. With Congress currently addressing this very issue, 45 percent said it is a top concern affecting their business. Depending on what legislators come up with, everyone will have to wait to see how it will affect them.

Speaking of legislation, the minimum wage increase is also of great concern for small businesses.

Additional concerns include cash flow management according to 42 percent of small business owners. Meanwhile, close to a third or 32 percent of small business owners worry about keeping up with technology. New developments and the threat of cybersecurity are top on that list.

This apprehension is responsible for a surprising result, as 36 percent revealed they don’t have a website and another 48 percent report they don’t use social media to nurture their business.

What Does 2018 Hold?

For the new year, eighteen percent of business owners said they are going to put their effort into increasing advertising and marketing efforts and hiring new staff. This, of course, will have to take into consideration some of the challenges the survey highlights. But as Jackson reports, “For now, optimism remains high.”

Happy Business Partners Photo via Shutterstock


Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

2 Reactions
  1. As a brick & mortar small business franchise owner, my biggest concern is how far people will go to practically giveaway product on line when the quality of those products appears to be getting worse and cost of shipping continues to rise. With overhead and COG’s continuing to rise, will the brick & mortars survive or will the consumer start coming back and supporting their local community for better quality and service?

  2. Hi Bob,
    Great questions. I think the answer lies bringing all of the points you mention together. There will always be people who will opt for better quality and service, and they will find you where you are. The key is making your products and services available in the digital and physical world. It is definitely a challenge, especially with price increases across the board.
    Good luck with your franchise Bob.