March 18, 2011 10:00 ET

Sage Finds Small Businesses Optimistic, but Wary About the Future

Conversations on Just Wrapped Sage Peachtree Listening Tour, Recent Surveys, Point Out Consistent Challenges and Opportunities for Small Businesses

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - March 18, 2011) - Sage today announced the wrap-up of its Sage Peachtree listening tour, which visited with small business clients in 4 cities: New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta, from December 2010 through February 2011. Anecdotal feedback from small businesses during these visits over the past few months further supports Sage's recent survey findings suggesting that small businesses are cautiously optimistic about their prospects for 2011. 

Each day-long event on the listening tour featured a morning session for Sage Peachtree Certified Consultants and Sage Accountants Network members, followed by lunch and an afternoon session for partners and customers. At each stop, a loosely scheduled agenda gave attendees the opportunity to drive the discussion into topics that interested them, vs. sticking to a pre-planned set of topics. Dialogue explored the issues small businesses are facing, their top concerns, questions, and opinions. 

"What we found was that many small businesses are grappling with similar concerns, which echo those we identified in our recent accountants survey and the Sage Global Business Index survey," said Jennifer Warawa, senior director, partner programs, Sage. "The top concerns voiced by our attendees were running their businesses on reduced staff, dealing with rising costs and regulatory issues, attracting and keeping new customers, waiting for consumers to start spending again, and finding ways to retain skilled employees. On a brighter note, attendees indicated that while the construction and real estate sectors have taken a serious beating over the past couple of years, the real estate market is slowly coming back, and non-profits are regaining some momentum. While they are cautious, many small businesses are hoping that things will continue to improve in 2011." 

These anecdotal results further reinforce the recent Sage Business Index survey conducted in late 2010, in which 46% of those small businesses surveyed believe the U.S. economy is on the mend. At the same time, only 36% have greater confidence in their prospects for improved business. Survey respondents said reduction of bureaucracy (56%), business taxes (48%), and the national debt (48%) should be priorities to help small businesses. They also noted challenges in rising costs, maintaining or growing revenue, and gaining new customers as concerns for 2011. 

On the accountant front, of respondents in Sage's recent Accountants Network survey 34% stated that getting new clients tops their list of concerns. 28% cited tax law complexity and changes as an issue; followed by the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms. Work/life balance was cited by 20% of respondents, and keeping up with professional standards was a key concern for 17% of those surveyed. 13% of respondents cited access to affordable healthcare for employees as a worry for their firms. Specialization seems to be a trend amongst those in the accounting profession, perhaps in response to the need to seek out new clients. 

"We communicate regularly with our customers and partners, but nothing can replace the power of these face to face meetings with them on the Listening Tour, learning about their successes, challenges and hopes for the future, and how Sage can help them achieve some of their goals," continued Warawa. "Making these connections, spending the time to gain a deeper understanding of how we can design our products and services to better contribute to their success is critical to our own success."

To see the full SAN membership survey results, please visit here. To see the results from the Sage Business Index, please visit here

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 Follow Sage North America on Facebook,, and Twitter,!/sagenamerica.

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