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Small Business Owners Say Growth is Top Priority

September 30, 2015, 07:05 AM
Filed Under: Economic Commentary

A large majority (72%) of small business owners are prioritizing growth according to the inaugural American Express OPEN Small Business Growth Pulse, a survey of 1,000 small businesses with $250,000 or more in annual revenues. Roughly two-thirds of surveyed small business owners (65%) created a formal plan for growing their business.

However, growth itself has both positive and negative connotations for small business owners, as almost half (49%) say that generating ideas for growing their business “keeps them up at night,” followed closely (36%) by concerns about cash flow issues. An overwhelming majority (93%) say they are confident they can access the funding they need to grow their business.

“Access to working capital becomes critically important as small businesses look to pursue both expected and unexpected opportunities to grow their business,” said Janey Whiteside, SVP & GM Customer Marketing & Relationship Management, American Express OPEN. “When considering options to help fund their business, surveyed small business owners reported that low fees and interest are the most important factor, followed by trust and security of the provider and easy access to funds.”

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

While small businesses are prioritizing growth, the approach they take to pursue it varies. The most popular approach is a cautious one where “slow and steady wins the race” (63%). One quarter (25%) take an aggressive approach and “take the bull by the horns” as they look to develop their business.

Nearly half (48%) of all business owners say they have grown their business “significantly” since its inception. Among those who have experienced growth, four in ten (41%) say the majority of their growth has been planned, while less than three in ten say their growth was organic or spontaneous (27%).

Increasing Customers Is Key; New Markets & Diversifying Products and Services Are Top Growth Opportunities

Business owners recognize that customers are a vital ingredient in their recipe for growth with 26% of survey respondents saying that increasing customers is the most important aspect of business growth, followed closely by increasing revenue (24%) and increasing profits (23%).

When looking at avenues to pursue growth, one-third cite expansion into new markets (33%) and diversifying products and services (33%) as their largest growth opportunities.

Networking Generates Greatest Return for Growth; Many Seek Out Peers for Guidance

As business owners take initiative and seek out opportunities for growth, they look to their peers for advice. Roughly half (49%) reported proactively seeking out opportunities for growth by networking with like-minded small business owners and business experts. In fact, 41% indicated networking yields the greatest return for growth compared to marketing or advertising activity.

Survey Methodology The American Express OPEN Small Business Growth Pulse research is based on a random online sample of 1,000 U.S. small business owners/managers of companies with $250,000 or more in revenues and fewer than 100 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via the Internet by Ebiquity from August 3-31, 2015. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95% level of confidence.

Readers may learn more at American Express OPEN.

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