There’s no doubt that the economy is coming back and small business owners are more confident when it comes to investing money into growing their business and realizing their dream.
But according to a new National Small Business Association survey — the association checks in for such surveys twice a year — only 27 percent of small business owners think the economy will grow. About 17 percent think the economy will actually get worse, and the remaining 56 percent say it’ll stay flat.
That’s not the best news, but certainly not the worst. There are a few things small business owners can do this year to help buck that flat trend and make the most of an average-at-best economy.
First, continue to stay confident. This is 2014 and it’s much different from the housing market crash-era of 2007–2010. Potential customers are more willing to spend money on products and services they care about, so it’s certainly not time to throw in the towel.
According to the same NSBA survey, only 30 percent of small business owners plan to increase the size of their workforce and operations over the next year; 10 percent said they’re considering decreasing operations.
Remember, that confidence is key. Don’t be afraid to expand in little ways. That brings us up to our next point:
Make small, but meaningful improvements.
Something as little as cleaning up your business can make a world of difference. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways, from a literal clean up (we all get a little messy after some time) to something like changing your accounting software to a program like Xero – modern, mobile-friendly accounting software.
These improvements are geared toward making your business more efficient and as we know, efficiency is key and leads to further growth and development.
The biggest challenge, according to the survey, preventing business owners from expanding is the perception that there’s still a ton of economic uncertainty. That uncertainty needs to be tested. A house not on the market isn’t going to sell — a stagnant business afraid to grow isn’t going to prosper.
Of course, things like the partisan gridlock in Washington and the enormous federal deficit aren’t helping and will not make the tax burden any easier. However, if you can afford to take a risk, take the leap.
But how can I grow?
It seems like an insurmountable hurdle at times, but growing in a stagnant economy is possible.
Use your resources, like small business associations, to answer questions you may have — and make sure to have lots of questions. Ask yourself critical questions, like why would a customer really want to use my business. If you can’t answer that question without pausing, you have some work to do.
Be flexible with your customers and give them an incentive to come to you. Of course, that incentive needs to pay off in the form of customer loyalty.
Is it easy? No. If it were, it wouldn’t be worth doing in the first place.