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The U.S. Chamber and MetLife released the Q4 results of the Small Business Index. The results indicated an overall increase in positive feelings about the local economy, even as sentiment in the national economy fell. Nearly half of small business owners (48%) feel “good” about their local economy, but only 38% feel the same way about the national economy, a decrease from the Q3 numbers.
Overall, small businesses owners have a positive outlook for the future of their business in the next year. More than half (57%) think they will see an increase in revenue, and a quarter plan to increase their investments in the next year. This is a reflection of a more positive outlook on the financial health of small business. While most small businesses (61%) rate the financial health of their business as “good,” large and small businesses saw the greatest increase in positive business outlook.
The Q4 Index found that the Professional Services Industry saw the greatest increase in positive outlook, with one Missouri small business president arguing that this year is “possibly the best profit we’ve had—we are distributing bonuses and raises again.”
However, the Retail Industry saw a decrease in financial health – 17% of small business owners in the Retail Industry described the financial health of their company as “somewhat poor” or “very poor.”
Another finding of the Q4 Index is that one in five (19%) of small businesses do not have an online presence, and 7% of those who do admit that they don’t regularly update or utilize it.
The Small Business Index also illuminated an overall lack of preparedness for catastrophic events in the small business community. Less than a quarter (23%) of small businesses do not have a plan to deal with natural disasters, inclement weather, theft and intrusion, and cybercrime. The results indicated that out of all of these events, small businesses were most prepared to deal with theft or intrusion, but even still only 50% had plans in place to address them.
Despite these results, one small business CEO stressed:
You can never be too prepared for a disaster and its aftermath. If you aren’t it can really take a toll on you financially.
Another small business owner from Florida echoed this sentiment, and saying:
You can never be too prepared... even if you are okay, your customers might not be. And the longer it takes the community to get back on its feet, the more the aftermath can wreak financial havoc on your business.
Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Marc Decourcey addressed this finding:
Disasters are not a matter of if, but when. This is why every business owner, no matter the business size, needs to develop a disaster plan now. Developing a list of vendors and contacts, backing up key files on cloud storage, and disseminating an employee emergency phone tree are all simple steps to get your started that will help you reopen sooner when a disaster strikes.
The Small Business Index is a collaborative effort by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to illuminate the performance and predictions of small businesses across the country.
One thousand small business owners from every region of the U.S. responded to a survey of ten questions. The core questions focused on business operations, environment, and expectations. The interviews were conducted by Ipsos, an independent research group.