SOURCE: Sage North America

Sage North America

February 23, 2011 08:28 ET

Sage Business Index Shows U.S. Small Businesses Cautiously Optimistic About Economic Recovery

Concern Over National Debt, Red Tape, Business Taxes Highlighted

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwire - February 23, 2011) - The Sage Group, a leading provider of business management software and services to 6.3 million small and midsized businesses worldwide, today announced the results of an international business survey that indicates that American business owners are cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook for the year, but have significant concerns about the degree to which bureaucracy and legislation is helping or hurting businesses. Sage serves 3.2 million small and midsized businesses in the United States and Canada.

The survey, conducted as part of a multi-country research program by Sage which sought the views and recommendations of small businesses in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, found that American businesses, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, share a common belief in business culture and entrepreneurial spirit as the best aspect of doing business, while dealing with bureaucracy was the highlight of their discontent. After entrepreneurial spirit (53 percent), American businesses next cited access to extensive domestic markets (27 percent) as the best aspect of doing business in the U.S. 23 percent of American businesses cited the ease of access to capital and funding as one of the least favorable aspects of doing business in the U.S., whereas in several other countries this was a greater concern cited by 40 percent in the UK and Germany and 37 percent in France.

Slightly more than half the American companies surveyed (56 percent) have been in business for more than 20 years and 45 percent support fewer than five full-time employees.

Of the American businesses surveyed, 46 percent believe the U.S. economy is on the mend, but only 36 percent have greater confidence in their own prospects for improved business. They also believe that reducing bureaucracy (56 percent), business taxes (48 percent) and the national debt (48 percent) should be priorities to help small businesses. Businesses in the U.S. and Germany were the only ones that identified national debt reduction among the top 3 issues for governments to help small businesses.

"Small businesses make up 99 percent of the business population of the U.S. and are truly the engine of our economy," said Sage Senior Vice President Connie Certusi. "Their message for business improvement is clearly focused on simplifying administrative issues and reducing the cost of doing business. What I love about working with small businesses is their willingness to tell it like it is. Even in the face of their challenges they cite the entrepreneurial spirit as the most favorable aspect about doing business in this country. That's inspiring."

When asked about the most difficult challenges faced in the past year and what they foresee as the most difficult challenges for the coming year, respondents cited rising costs, maintaining or growing revenue and gaining new customers. 

Like their counterparts in several other countries, about half (53 percent) of American companies that participated in the study believe the government could provide more support and advice to those starting a business (Canada 47 percent; Germany 54 percent). It is a greater concern in France (70 percent) and a lesser concern in the UK (20 percent). American businesses are taking it upon themselves to strengthen and grow:

  • 55 percent of American respondents plan to increase the use of internet and online software services, the majority of those focusing on improvements in marketing, sales, and payments processing. 
  • 39 percent expect to incorporate mobile technology into their business.
  • 48 percent are looking to reduce expenditures and 44 percent will be monitoring finances more closely, while 32 percent plan to invest in sales and marketing.
  • 13 percent of the American respondents plan on hiring in 2011 while 17 percent anticipate reductions.

American small businesses' focus on the entrepreneurial spirit extended to their choice of advisors: 56 percent turn to their accountant, 48 percent to business associations, and 40 percent to colleagues. Banks and government sources were among the least relied upon at 16 percent and 7 percent respectively, even falling below the modern self-help source, an internet search, which was preferred by 30 percent.

The Sage Business Index survey reports are available at www.businessindex.sage.com.

Survey Sample
The global survey received 6455 responses from small businesses in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany and France. Of the 660 U.S. respondents, 50 percent of them were either the owner/founder or CEO/General Manager and 34 percent accountant/payroll administrator. Some 74 percent of businesses that replied had an employee base of between 1 and 19. Of the businesses, 7 percent were less than 3 years old, 4 percent between 3 and 5 years old with 56 percent of them having operated for more than 20 years.

A sample size of 660 has a confidence interval estimate of + 4.0 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level assuming conservative 50/50 response proportions.

About Sage North America
Sage North America is part of The Sage Group plc, a leading global supplier of business management software and services. Sage North America employs 4,000 people and supports 3.2 million small and midsized business customers. The Sage Group plc, formed in 1981, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs 13,400 people and supports 6.3 million customers worldwide. For more information, please visit the Web site at www.sagenorthamerica.com. Follow Sage North America on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/SageNorthAmerica, and Twitter, http://twitter.com/#!/sagenamerica.

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