Small Businesses Optimistic For 2017
Despite a dip in holiday sales expectations, small business sentiment overall seems to be improving heading into 2017, according to Capital One’s latest Spark Business Barometer, tracking 400 small business owners’ financial conditions, economic perceptions and hiring plans, among other indicators.
Half of business owners reported “good” or “excellent” business conditions in their area heading into 2017, an increase of 8 points compared to the first half of 2016 (41 percent) and slightly above average since the Barometer began tracking business conditions in 2013. What’s more, 12 percent of small business owners believe their financial position will be “much better” in the early half of 2017, up three points from earlier in 2016.
Larger firms, in general, are more optimistic than smaller firms, with 49 percent of businesses with more than $1 million in annual revenue reporting improved financial positions versus 30 percent of business owners with less than $1 million in annual revenue. All told, 59 percent of larger small businesses reported “excellent” or “good” business conditions in their area, compared to 48 percent of very small businesses.
Female business owners also are more encouraged by local conditions than their male counterparts, with 55 percent saying business conditions are “excellent/good,” compared to 46 percent of men saying the same.
One possible source of the positive sentiment, 38 percent of businesses reported increased sales during the second half of 2016, an increase of 6 points over the first half of the year. Even so, only 23 percent of small-business owners plan to hire new employees in the first half of 2017, slightly down from earlier in the year. According to the study, the top three concerns of small business owners in the coming year include taxes (47 percent), managing cash flow (31 percent) and keeping up with technology (25 percent).
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