A deadly Ebola epidemic threatens our country and the world. A growing nation of terrorists are targeting the U.S. A new report warns of an imminent and devastating earthquake in the Bay Area. Russia and China sign partnership deals and separately continue to build their militaries and intimidate their neighbors. Iran gets closer to becoming a nuclear state. Global warming may soon be melting our faces. Amanda Bynes may not be well. The country's most sensitive financial and military data is quietly and quickly breached by our enemies. Our European allies spiral towards another recessionary slowdown. The stock market drops 6% in just 30 days. Man, I'm getting depressed just writing this!
So let's all agree: It's not been a great month. But hold on.
There is some good news. There is one group of people out there feeling successful and optimistic, even in the midst of all these alarming events. Who are these nave, yet hearty souls? Why, it's small business owners! Don't believe me? Then believe the data. Because just in this past month, along with all the bad news, there have been no less than eight surveys that, for the most part, all say the same thing: Small business owners are feeling pretty darn good. And as a public service to you, I've rounded them up here just to prove it:
- The Hartford's Small Business Success Study (October, 2014) says that 77% of small business owners feel they are "successful," and a majority of them believe that they have access to capital if they need.
- A business index from software maker Sage Group PLC (October, 2014) says that American business confidence is at a four-year high, with the majority of businesses predicting significant growth in revenue and staff in the next 12 months.
- Principal Financial Group's Financial Well Being Index found that 40% of small business owners are optimistic about the upcoming year (that's up from 26% in 2012), and 88% rate their business financial health as stable or growing.
- Payroll company ADP's survey (October, 2014) of mid-sized companies found that more than half expect their industry to improve in the coming year.
- Not to be outdone, a survey from another payroll service, SurePayroll (September, 2014), said that 81% of small businesses expect to have a profitable second half of the year, and 73% of these small business owners are optimistic about the economy.
- Accounting service Xero (September, 2014) said that 80% of the small businesses they polled grew their revenue in the past year, and 90% forecast a revenue growth in 2015. Not only that, but 87% of these small businesses are content to extremely satisfied with how their business is performing.
- Vistage (October, 2014), a private advisory board facilitator, also surveyed executives of mid-sized companies and found that their optimism is at a two-year high and 58% of those firms planned workforce increases.
- 85% of the respondents to PNC Financial Services Group's bi-annual Economic Outlook Survey (October, 2014) said they are optimistic about the economy and 52% expect sales to increase over the next six months.
Unfortunately, and as most small business owners know, nothing is ever as good as it seems. So while everyone is feeling so bullish about the upcoming year, hiring trends don't look as rosy. In fact two-thirds of those "successful" small business owners in the Hartford survey didn't hire last year. And this year? About half of those survey by both Principal and Xero planned new hires in 2015, and only 22% planned to add full time employees in the PNC survey. Another interesting thing of note: With all of this optimism, why are so many more small businesses cashing in and selling out, according to a new BizBuySell (October, 2014) report? Hmm...
But hey, in a month where the world seems to be falling apart, it's comforting to know that the great majority of America's small businesses still see the glass as half full. But then again, what else would you expect?