Only One-Third of Small Business Owners Optimistic About Economy

The Hartford's Small Business Success Study shows increased caution among small business owners.

The Hartford’s second annual Small Business Success Study gathered responses from more than 2,000 small business owners around the country. Economic conditions play a large role in the success of small businesses, and only one-third of owners are optimistic about improvement this year.

Despite uncertain economic times, 68 percent of respondents categorized their businesses as moderately or very successful during 2012. Businesses listed increased demand for products as well as fewer governmental rules and regulations and an improved pool of qualified talent as reasons for this year’s success.

Survey results show that owners rank success in the following ways: making enough money to have a comfortable lifestyle, being able to do something they feel passionate about, increasing profitability, paying employees enough to support their comfortable lifestyles, having free time and, lastly, making a lot of money.

The economy remains on the minds of owners, many of whom are lowering growth expectations. About half of businesses plan to maintain current size and only four in ten say they are actively seeking growth, a drop from 51 percent in 2011. Seventy-three percent indicate they are acting conservatively in the face of greater economic risks.

As a result of revised growth predictions, small business hiring has slowed: 59 percent have not hired in the past year and 67 percent do not plan to in 2013. Although times are uncertain, most businesses have used the downtime to increase efficiency by cutting costs, strengthening client relationships, finding new customers and refining strategies.

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