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Small business owners who increased their revenues over the past two years are more likely than SBOs that had high negative growth during the same period to rely on cash reserves and to borrow capital to get through tough economic times, a study reveals.

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, published this finding in a March 2012 report, “Small Business America: Six Steps to Better Performance in the Coming Year.” The report, based on data from The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, polled 1,070 small business owners.

When asked how they would react if their company revenue were to drop drastically in the next 12 to 24 months, 47.1% of “higher growth” companies indicated they would rely on cash reserves. This compares with 38.5% of companies that had “high negative growth” during the past two years, the report discloses.

Likewise, three times as many respondents at high-growth companies (21.9%) indicated that they would borrow capital to get through a rough patch than high negative growth companies (7.1%).

By contrast, higher growth companies were less likely than high negative growth companies to lay off part-time staff (22.2% versus 27.9%), cut back working hours for employees (21.9% versus 25.3%) cut back health care benefits (12.9% versus 6.3%) and close down their business (9.3% versus 27.3%).

Higher growth companies, the report adds, rely on advice from financial professionals and informal support groups of executives at consistently higher rates than do owners of companies that had revenue declines over the past two years.

Nearly 7 in 10 (68.3%) of respondents at higher growth companies said they relied on advice from a trusted financial advisor, as compared to 50.9% of high negative growth companies. The percentages of respondents indicating they turn to an informal support group of business executives was 60.7% at higher growth companies compared to 45% at high negative growth firms.

The Guardian survey notes also that 57.6% of higher growth small businesses report that a research and development investment yields the most positive return. This compares with 15.8% of revenue-declining business.