ECONOMY

Small Business Owners Say Main Street Is Back. Here's Why

While they've struggled more than some social media startups, small companies are clawing their way back to profitability.
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When Candy Crush lands a valuation of more than $7 billion, WhatsApp sells for $19 billion, and Pinterest wants to charge up to $2 million for ads, you have to wonder if things are really that bad for small businesses. 

However, these stories don't reflect what’s actually happening on Main Street. Small businesses--i.e., those with 10 employees or fewer--have clawed their way to profitability and revenue growth without the help of venture capitalists. And while the small companies on Main Street have struggled to keep up with Wall Street (and its social media startup darlings), March may signal a turnaround for these owners in 2014.

Despite uncertainty over health care, the minimum wage, overtime, and the situation in the Ukraine, optimism among these companies held strong at 69 percent, according to the March 2014 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard.

Optimism among small business owners has also remained around the 70 percent point since the beginning of this year--important to note since this group tends to act on its instinct. While hiring was down by 0.1 percent in March, the survey found that nearly 9 in 10, or 87 percent of small businesses, expect the first quarter to be the same or better than a year ago.

Three times as many small business owners also expect to have better results than last year compared with those who saw a slowdown in business. They cited stability in the economy, the rising stock market, and continued hiring nationwide as reasons to raise their expectations.

You won’t hear much on the news about the growth of a dry cleaner’s down the street or a boutique hiring associates to sell children’s clothing, but these are great success stories, too. And there are far more of them than there are billion dollar IPOs.

These companies are telling us that regardless of the challenges they’ve faced, they see opportunities ahead. News of their successes probably won’t blow up on Twitter anytime soon, but to me it’s a story worth sharing.

 

Last updated: Mar 24, 2014

MICHAEL ALTER | Columnist | President of SurePayroll

Michael Alter is president of SurePayroll, America?s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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