For small business owners, consumer confidence is a helpful indicator to keep an eye on because its movements can help you figure out what’s going on in the economy.
Monitored since 1967, the Consumer Confidence Index is looked to by analysts (and businesses comfortable with analysis.) Upward and downward trends can influence tough decisions companies are forced to make. Similarly, because interest rates and tariffs can affect hiring and capex issues, these are looked at as well.
It’s been over four months since the Trump tariffs began and there’s even been some recent uncertainty whether the next wave is on hold or poised to go into effect with higher levels for 2019.
So have those tariffs affected consumer confidence? The consensus right now is No, not really if you look at various indices such as the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index, the most-cited measure, or even comments from White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow earlier this month. The lows seen in this year’s University of Michigan consumer sentiment index are to date still higher than its 2015 highs.
Fintech CEO Says Small Business Growth Won’t Last Forever
A Fintech executive shares insights small businesses should remember while keeping an eye on trends. Small Business Trends interviewed co-founder and CEO Krista Morgan of P2Binvestor to get some thoughts on borrowers’ attitudes and consumer confidence in relation to the trade tariffs.
P2Bi launched in 2012 with headquarters in Colorado, and Morgan has over 10 years of experience in operations management and digital marketing.
Providing higher asset-backed lines of credit than most online lenders ranging from $500K to $10M+, the P2Bi platform was “built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.” Risks for both lenders and borrowers are reduced through a marketplace of accredited lenders. If a young business isn’t profitable yet, in many cases, the team at P2Bi still can assist if it’s the right fit.
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Small Business Trends: What do small businesses need to know about the international “trade war” the U.S. is having this year, if we can even call it that? Thoughts on current consumer confidence?
Krista Morgan: The top goods being impacted by tariffs right now are farming equipment, motor vehicles, health care equipment, and products made with steel and aluminum. I agree with the view that many small businesses won’t be impacted by these tariffs directly, but much depends on the specific industry; for example, are goods locally sourced or imported from abroad? Keep in mind trickle-down effects as costs go up and prices start to rise.
The past five years have seen all kinds of new businesses develop because consumers are spending. We’re buying craft beer, natural and organic products, high-end electronics, and we’re going out to eat, traveling, and having fun.
Our portfolio at P2Bi is filled with emerging brands who are growing quickly due to high demand for niche products. Overall, high consumer confidence is good for business owners. A big risk of the trade war is that prices rise and consumers have less disposable income.
Small Business Trends: Any compelling arguments that aren’t making waves because they’re relatively quiet? In the lending space, I mean.
Krista Morgan: The good news is that lenders always want to deploy capital to good businesses. While the macro environment impacts overall access to capital, if you are managing your business profitably and can demonstrate a history of responsible borrowing, I think securing a loan will be possible. If anything, I think the rise we’ve seen in online lending will make it easier for small businesses to secure loans even if the banks tighten their controls.
We work with growth-oriented companies, so we are seeing significant demand for line increases within our portfolio. We are in a good economy right now, and smart business owners are seizing opportunities to gain market share. So far, our portfolio hasn’t seen a major impact from tariffs because the first wave of tariffs were not focused on industries who are significantly represented in our portfolio.
The reality is, economies are cyclical and the growth we’ve seen won’t continue forever. Business owners who prioritize growth over profitability will need to shift their thinking to margins and profitability to weather a potential change in the economy.
Small Business Trends: What’s some evergreen advice we can end with?
Krista Morgan: It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen so the best thing SMBs can do is to make sure you know if spending is up or down over the same time period last year, or if your costs base is increasing disproportionately to your revenue growth. Invest wisely, stay lean, be ready to react quickly.
Images: P2Binvestor Inc.