Positive small business sentiment is on the rise, according to the latest Capital One Small Business Growth Index.
Half of small business owners believe current conditions are good or excellent, a 22 per cent increase from last year. Half of small business owners also expect conditions to improve, the highest rate in five years. Only four per cent expect to be worse off in six months.
“It’s encouraging to see more small businesses feeling optimistic about their performance and future prospects, particularly women and younger business owners who represent increasingly significant segments impacting our local and national economies,” said Buck Stinson, head of small business card at Capital One. “At Spark Business, we’re committed to understanding the opportunities and challenges impacting small businesses across the board, so we can build solutions that enable growth and success.”
That optimism does have its limits, however. Most have no plans to hire (67 per cent) increase marketing (66) or invest in new technologies (62) in the next 6-12 months.
Some are cheerier than others. Forty-seven per cent of women say they’ll be in a better financial position six months from now ( a 13-point increase), while 73 per cent of millennials, compared to 53 per cent of Generation X and 49 per cent of baby Boomers see bluer skies in the future. Small business owners in the South and Northeast see better conditions at a 57 per cent clip, far ahead of the counterparts in the Midwest (45 per cent) and West (42).
The biggest factors which could impact small businesses were cited as taxes (50 percent), cash flow management (32), technology currency (30), minimum wage increases (22), capital access (16) and immigration reform (9).
While small business owners said keeping up with technology does have its challenges, when they do take the plunge they find it also has benefits. Almost half of owners (46 per cent) who offer mobile payments say sales have increased over the past half-year, an eleven-point increase over those who do not use such tools. Forty-four per cent who use data analytics tools report increased sales, compared to 33 per cent who do not use them.