Small Business Optimism Up, According to American Express OPEN Survey

1971The 2017 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor has good news: nearly three-fourths of small business owners (72%) think their business prospects are looking up, and feel the economy will be favorable over the next six months.

This is a jump over last year, when only 64% had an optimistic outlook, and 2015, when 67% were feeling good about the economy and their business growth potential. Growing their businesses is the number one goal for those surveyed, for the first time in six years of the survey.

Most small business owners are well positioned to look toward expansion; one in five said that their businesses are strong, growing, and performing well. Only 34% are worried about cash flow, and 82% are confident they’ll be able to get their hands on the capital they need to meet their growth goals.

Social media takes the lead

As for their growth strategies, more businesses are focusing on social media this year; 65% will make it a priority, compared with 57% in 2016. More than half of those surveyed said they thought social media was a good way to attract more customers.

Other growth strategies include hiring more staff and acquiring more capital. Susan Sobbott, President of Global Commercial Payments at American Express, said good feelings about the economy naturally lead to growth efforts. “In this economy, there’s a clear correlation between business owner optimism and plans for growth. As they look to grow, business owners plan to increase capital investments, hire staff and increase usage of low cost methods like social media to attract new customers.”

Entrepreneurs are a happy bunch

Perhaps the optimism of the small business set can be attributed to their overall satisfaction with their lives; 94% of entrepreneurs said they were happy with life, and more than 81% of those said they credited being a small business owner with their happiness.

Not all small business owners can afford to pay themselves a salary, but a little more than half said they do, and the number is rising. Last year, 51% of small business owners paid themselves a salary; this year, 55% did. Those salaries averaged $75,970 per year, down slightly this year from $76,010 last year.

The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor has been conducted every year since 2002 and is based on responses from a sample of 700 small businesses across the United States. Small businesses are defined as those with fewer than 100 employees. American Express OPEN offers a suite of credit products for small businesses, with tools and perks designed to make being an entrepreneur more rewarding.

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