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Survey: Fewer small business owners view economic conditions as barrier to growth

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The percentage of small business owners who believe that economic conditions are the biggest barrier to economic growth has declined since 2011, according to a new report.

This finding was released today in the fall 2012 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, which surveyed 839 small business owners and managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The survey includes a Small Business Owner Success Index, the value of which is based on business growth and business owners’ approach to pursing success in the business.

The report reveals that only 20% of small business owners believe that economic conditions are the biggest barrier to growth, as compared to 23% in the fall of 2011. Additionally fewer small businesses have cash flow concerns (53% versus 58% in the spring). And fewer are stressed out by the economy (59% versus 64% in the spring).

The report finds differences among “high achievers” and other small business owners surveyed. Among them:

High achievers take more risks. More than two-thirds of have increased their appetite for risk compared to one year ago (67% versus 35% of the total population surveyed).

High achievers make growth a priority. A majority of high achievers say they are planning to grow their business over the next six months (93%, as compared to 69% of the total group surveyed). And more than half (51%) have growth as their top priority (versus 31% of the total survey group).

They invest in their business. More than three-quarters (78%) are planning to make capital investments (versus 49% of the total survey group.)

They provide incentives to customers to get repeat business. More than 8 in 10 (84%) place a heightened focus on better servicing customers to set their business part from competitors (versus 78% overall).

Additionally, 40% offer loyalty awards (versus 22%) overall. And 41% offer differentiated products and services (versus 23% overall).

They leverage social media. A large majority of high-achieving small business owners use social media (70% versus 49% overall). And more than three-quarters (79%) use social media to attract new customers (versus 57% overall).


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