Small businesses optimistic about future, need more credit

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According to one poll, things are looking up for the nation’s smallest businesses.

More than two-thirds of micro businesses – those with 10 employees or fewer – are optimistic about the future of their business and the economy. And half report increased sales or revenue during the last two years. Another 50 percent plan to hire more employees in the next two years.

The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the three nonprofit industry groups: the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the National Association for the Self-Employed and Small Business Majority.

Small businesses also said that their future depended on the availability of credit for micro-businesses and four in 10 who applied for credit last year were turned down, despite the fact that three in five say they need up to $50,000 in the next three years to sustain and grow their business.

“These smallest businesses make up 95 percent of all small businesses, so they are truly the backbone of our economy and the ones who will pull us out of this recession,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. “While work has been done to shore up credit for small businesses, these micro business owners are still struggling to get the help they need. It’s important policymakers realize how vital these businesses are to our economy and do what needs to be done to help them succeed.”

In addition, the poll refutes the common perception that these small businesses are merely hobbyists, working part-time. The poll refutes the perception that micro businesses are merely hobbyists selling tchotchkes on the Internet. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed report their micro business as their sole source of income and 57 percent have been in business for 10 years or longer.

“Micro-business owners have spoken loudly and clearly. These poll findings are a striking testament to the vital vehicle micro-businesses are for enduring financial stability for many individuals and families across the country,” said Connie Evans, CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. “These enterprises are a great boon to their local communities, and also to the nation’s economic and employment health. Micro-business owners know the power they carry, and so must we. The heart of America beats on Main Street USA, and that is why it is ever critical to equip micro-businesses to achieve sustainability and long-term success.”

Additional findings from the poll include:

• A strong majority of all micro business owners surveyed — nearly seven in 10 — believe their business will be faring well over the next couple of years. An overwhelming 81 percent of respondents under 40 feel the same way. What’s more, 67 percent of owners in that age group say they plan on hiring, along with 58 percent of minority business owners.

• 67 percent of respondents under 40 say their business is doing well.

• Micro-businesses are not just hiring part-time, low-paid workers: more than six in 10 spent more than $50,000 in payroll this year and 54 percent spend more than $10,000 annually on non-payroll expenses such as equipment, computers, office supplies and more.

• Businesses that are eager to grow and hire are notably more likely to have trouble getting the credit they need than businesses that have been around longer and do not need credit: 58 percent of businesses that actually need credit say getting it is a serious problem for their businesses.

• 67 percent of respondents view credit availability as a problem for small businesses in general. But when taking into account only owners who say they need credit, a 58 percent majority view the availability of credit as a serious problem for their business.

• Nearly half, or 48 percent, said marketing and sales topped their list of services they’re most in need of, while tax preparation, 27 percent, and technology, 21 percent, came in second and third.

• These businesses are politically diverse: 49 percent identified as Republican or lean Republican; 35 percent identified as Democrat or lean Democrat; 10 percent identified as independent and 7 percent identified as “other.”