SMALL BUSINESS POLL RESULTS: 60% expect their business to grow in the next 12 months

Small business owners are generally optimistic about their prospects for 2011, but many still they think they’ll succeed largely without the help of the web and social media.

Intuit Inc., surveyed  small business owners about their outlook for 2011:

Sixty percent said they expect their business to grow in the next 12 months despite the economic climate — a 6% increase from December 2008. Yet, just over half (54%) of small business owners said a decline in their customer base was the hardest part of running their business, while 32% said delayed payments was their biggest problem.

When asked about the New Year, small business owners said the following:

  • Focus on retaining and growing my current customers (56%)
  • Expand marketing to attract new customers (41%)
  • Reduce costs and save money (30%)
  • Expand products and/or services to make more money (29%)
  • Invest in expanding operations (10%)
  • Hire more employees (6%) Part of growing a customer base depends on having a strong web presence and yet almost half (46 percent) of the respondents said they do not have a website. Yet, the majority of respondents (71 percent) agree that social media is effective when it comes to keeping current customers engaged.

How do consumers find these small businesses? Nine in 10 of the respondents said word of mouth, and just 41 percent said via their website despite the fact that consumers eyes and ears are online for much of the day.

Blogs? Almost non-existent among small business, with 91 percent reporting they do not have a blog.

Social media: Only 27% of respondents use Facebook, while only 8% use Twitter. Two thirds (67%) of respondents said they did not use Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare.

Asked what they would do if they had access to a new line of credit, small business owners said they would:

  • Increase marketing and/or advertising budget (48%)
  • Expand your range of services and/or offerings (42%)
  • Invest in new technologies (32%)
  • Hire more employees (13%)
  • Increase your social media budget (11%)

It appears that small business are also thinking more about doing business on the go, with 46% of respondents saying that accessing their accounting and financial records from their mobile phone is appealing; 38% would like to be able to process credit card payments on their mobile phones.

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