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More optimistic small business owners see less need to hoard cash

March 28th, 2012

BrotherThe third annual “Brother Small Business Survey” revealed a decline in small business owners feeling the need to store away funds in case of another economic downturn. That could affect everything from their hiring to their purchases.

This year’s survey found that 44 percent of small business owners believe stockpiling cash is the better option than investing in their business now which is down from 54 percent last year and 53 percent in 2010.

In 2010 36 percent of owners were looking to invest in their businesses’ growth, this increased last year to 44 percent but has dropped back to 38 percent in 2012 as owners take a “wait-and-see” approach to their business.(1)

More female owners apt to invest

According to the survey, more female business owners (44 percent) are apt to invest in their business now compared to 35 percent of males.  Nearly half of men (48 percent) feel the need to stockpile cash, compared to 36 percent of women.

Brother International Corporation, a leader in small office technology, started conducting the annual “Brother Small Business Survey” in 2010 to better understand the mindset of America’s small business owners.

“We conduct our annual survey to gain insight into the mindset of small business owners so we can better meet their needs,” said John Wandishin, Vice-President, Marketing, Business Machine Group. “This year’s survey was interesting because we saw several examples of cautious optimism despite the economic concerns that are still prevalent today.”

How was 2011?

According to the survey, 43 percent of small business owners felt 2011 turned out worse than expected and it showed in their stress levels.  Up three percent from last year’s findings, more than half (55 percent) of owners say  their stress levels are higher than usual due to the current economic climate, and almost a quarter (24 percent) believe their stress is at its highest ever.

What Can We Expect for 2012?

Opinions are mixed on what small business owners expect for 2012.  While 59 percent believe 2012 will be a better year than 2011, 72 percent are not confident that the federal government will be able to adequately improve the economy this year.

Of the small business owners who predict a worse 2012, 21 percent say the overall economy will be worse and 17 percent say continued economic uncertainty makes it hard to make plans.

However, of the 59 percent of small business owners who think 2012 will be better, nearly one-third (30 percent) feel that this is because the overall economy will be better this year.

This uncertainty filters down to consumers as well, more than half (53 percent) of small business owners said if their businesses struggled this year, they would plan to keep prices the same, only 24 percent said they would reduce their prices and offer discounts to increase business.

This is just the latest in a series of good signs we’ve seen that 2012 an economy finally in recovery. While headwinds remain and keep it a relatively slow recovery so far, once the U.S. economy really does rebound from a recession, the pedal hits the metal eventually.

Survey Methodology

The Brother SBO 2012 Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( via telephone among 500 American small business owners of companies with less than 100 employees, between February 14th and March 1st, 2012, using listed sample consisting of adults 18+ who are currently the owner, partner, president, or CEO of a business with less than 100 employees in the United States.

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