Local Corp. Survey: SMBs ‘Cautiously Optimistic’

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A new survey released by Local Corporation has found that small business owners are “cautiously optimistic” about the future. The survey, designed to understand the current sentiments of SMBs (and how their feelings about the business climate relate to the economy and their business decisions), has found that more businesses are focusing on digital as the economic climate evolves.

According to Local Corporation CEO Heath Clarke: “There is no doubt that the behavior of SMBs is influenced by the downturn economy, and the survey provides us with concrete evidence: nearly all small business owners report that their financial decisions are influenced by the economy.”

According to the survey, 92% of small business owners are influenced by the national economy. In recent months, 46% have considered raising prices, 40% have considered cutting back on marketing, and 24% have considered reducing staff. Clarke said this behavior, based on the survey, is directly related to business owners’ confidence in the economy.

“Confidence in the economy certainly correlates to internal decisions made by small businesses—business owners want nothing more than to have successful businesses,” Clarke said. “We can interpret from the results of this survey that when small business owners are not confident about the economy, they look more closely at their expenditures and where they’re getting the highest ROI.”

As the survey shows, these expenditures include everything from marketing to pricing and operating costs to their staff numbers.

Another interesting trend the survey found was that SMBs are examining their expenditures more closely, trying to gain maximum benefit from their marketing and advertising campaigns. This is leading to a switch to more digital-media-focused campaigns, as the survey saw a $5 billion decline in traditional advertising between 2010-2015 and an $18 billion increase in digital media spending.

According to Clarke, the “digital world is the new storefront for small businesses” and SMBs need to pay more attention to how they are spending their advertising money, especially on digital media. “Consumers are online, so businesses, even small businesses, should also be online. Seemingly basic efforts like creating a website or using targeted ad buys make a world of difference for a small businesses — giving themselves the ability to be found online is half the battle.”

Isa Jones is an editorial assistant at Street Fight.