Small business optimism bottomed out in October, survey finds

The latest American Express OPEN Economic Pulse survey shows that entrepreneurial fear and uncertainty reached a peak in October last year, amidst significant stock market slides. Since then, expectations have somewhat improved: fewer small business owners express worry about going out of business, and more expect to grow their businesses regardless of the economic climate. So much for doom and gloom?

Some other findings from the survey:

  • Fewer businesses have been affected by the tightening of credit (50% in August 08, 63% in October 08 and 56% in January 09)
  • Fewer businesses are accepting lower profit margins (56% in August 08, 58% in October 08 and 46% in January 09)
  • Fewer business owners are stressed out over the state of the economy (55% in February 08, 71% in August 08 and 66% in January 09)
  • Women business owners are more stressed out the men business owners (71% versus 59% in January 09)
  • It is taking longer for small business owners to get paid (27% in February 08 versus 36% in January 09)
  • Small business owners are more averse to risk now than they were twelve to 18 months ago (75% indicated this was true)
  • Women business owners are having a harder time paying bills (47% said they have been unable to pay bills or paid them late versus 36% of men business owners)
  • Two-thirds of small business owners (68%) agree with the statement, "The independence and control I was seeking when I started my own business is threatened by economic forces out of my control"
  • Four in five small business owners agree with the statement, "Even in these turbulent economic times, the rewards and opportunities of running my own business outweigh the risks and challenges"

The February 2008 American Express OPEN Economic Pulse was based on a nationally representative sample of 600 small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The survey was conducted via telephone by Echo Research Inc. from February 11-20, 2008.


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