Small Biz Owners Are Sticking It Out, Survey Says
January 19, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
With the small businesses in the Western economies accounting for a large number of jobs and the bulk of jobs growth, you can bet that the government and IT companies who are keen on selling their wares to SMB shops are very interested in knowing exactly what is on the minds of entrepreneurs right now as we all cope with the recession in various economies.
To that end, software giant Microsoft‘s Office Live small business unit and a tech headhunter called Elance together commissioned a market researcher named Decision Analyst to survey small businesses owners about how they felt about their prospects in the current economic climate. The survey was conducted between December 10 and 16 as 2008 was winding down, and 600 small business owners responded. Decision Analyst said that based on statistical analysis, the poll had a margin of error of between plus or minus 4 percent with a 95 percent confidence level; the company added that the poll results were weighted to reflect the actual distribution (by company size, industry, and so forth) of small businesses in the U.S. economy.
Having done all that statistical witchcraft on the 600 poll results, Decision Analyst concluded that almost 60 percent of small business owners think that, despite all the economic woes, 2009 will be as good as 2008. (Of course, for some small businesses, that means that 2009 will be as bad as 2008, but don’t expect Microsoft and Elance to put that idea out there in the cosmic ether.) Another 37 percent of those surveyed said that they are worried about how 2009 is shaping up, but think they can weather the economic storm, as Microsoft’s press release put it. Some 61 percent of those businesses surveyed said they planned to spend the same or more on marketing efforts in 2009; about half of the companies said they would keep their employee count about the same, while almost a third said they might need contract or freelance help this year for Web design, marketing, and sales efforts.
Amazingly, a little more than half of the small businesses polled said they did not have a Website, which just goes to show you that the Internet is not always central to a business. That said, two thirds of the companies polled said they believed having a presence on the Web was nonetheless important. I guess they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Microsoft wants companies to host their sites on Office Live, and Elance wants to do the coding work involved, of course. And to that end, companies that pay Elance $250 for a programming engagement can get a $50 credit good toward other services from its network of partners. You knew that had to be some kind of marketing hook in there, right?