According to the spring 2011 edition of the American Express OPEN® Small Business Monitor, a decade-old semi-annual survey of business owners, small-business growth is prevailing over survival for the first time since 2006. While the survey reveals that 65% of entrepreneurs anticipate that growth will be slow and steady, the majority of them (56%) are confident enough that things have taken a turn for the better that they are willing to take some degree of financial risk where they weren’t before. In fact, many of them plan to hire additional employees and make necessary capital investments for the first time in years.
Heralding the “true resiliency of small business owners” in a recent statement, American Express OPEN® President Susan Sobbott said, “They streamlined operations, shifted priorities and made tough staffing choices during the recession, but they have come out the other side stronger than ever. They are taking calculated risks, hiring at pre-recession levels and the mindset has shifted from ‘maintaining’ to ‘growing’.”
On the subject of hiring in particular, the survey results are particularly encouraging. A full 35% of businesses report they are planning to hire full- and/or part-time staff in the near future. This represents an increase of seven percentage points from last spring and nine from last fall. Of those who intend to hire, 35% plan to hire one additional employee, while 33% plan to hire two. Twenty percent plan to hire four or more employees over the next six months. Accountant/bookkeepers, social media experts and marketing/advertising and sales reps were among the most frequently named kinds of employees that business owners are interested in hiring over the coming year.
According to the survey results, cash flow presents the most serious concern among small-business entrepreneurs today. In fact, it’s at an all-time ten-year high of 66%, where similar concerns were at a near pre-recession low of just over 50% six months ago. “Business owners have sacrificed cash-flow comfort in order to make the switch from survival to growth mode,” surmises Sobbott. Moreover, nearly a third of business owners report that the cash-flow crunch is a direct result of an increased inability to access capital.
For more information on the survey and its findings, you can click here on American Express OPEN® Small Business Monitor.