SOURCE: SAGE

Sage

September 26, 2011 09:00 ET

U.S. Small Businesses Remain Bullish on Business Prospects but Are Concerned About Economy as a Whole

Concern Over National Debt, Red Tape, Business Taxes Highlighted

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwire - Sep 26, 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 its second international business outlook survey, Sage Business Index. The study, carried out by Populus on behalf of Sage, was conducted as part of a multi-country research program seeking the views and recommendations of businesses in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Austria, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore. Sage serves 3.2 million small and midsized businesses in North America.

The Sage Business Index indicated that American business owners continue to be optimistic about the prospects for their businesses despite their growing concern about the country's economy as a whole. On a scale of 0-100, where 50 is neutral and values above 50 reflect optimism and those below 50 denote pessimism, business owners have a confidence index at 55 when asked about their business prospects in the next six months. Confidence in the U.S. economy as a whole, however, was more negative at 41.57, a drop from 50.75 when the first Sage Business Index was conducted in February 2011.

Findings showed that confidence differences exist based on the size of the business. Small businesses are the least confident about what the future will bring, and the level of confidence increases with the number of employees a company has.

Similar to findings from Sage's first business index survey conducted earlier this year, business culture and entrepreneurial spirit is one of the most favorable aspects of doing business in the US, cited by 59 percent of respondents, followed by having a skilled workforce to recruit from (46 percent) and access to a strong domestic market (41 percent).

Conversely, surveyed businesses considered government to be the biggest problem when doing business in the country. In fact, government's handling of current economic challenges (63 percent), government bureaucracy and legislation (59 percent) and government's attitude to business were ranked first, second and third least favorable aspects of carrying out business in the U.S. Moreover, of those who find government bureaucracy and legislation one of the most unfavorable facets of the country's business sphere, 59 percent find tax law as the most burdensome area and businesses with lower revenue are more likely to think this is the case.

When it comes to government support, 69 percent of surveyed businesses responded that the U.S. government is not providing them with sufficient support. Survey findings also revealed that businesses with fewer employees are more likely to feel that way.

When asked about initiatives the government should be carrying out to help businesses in the U.S., 55 percent cited national debt reduction as the top priority, followed by reduction of business bureaucracy and legislation (47 percent) and reduction of business taxes (37 percent). Interestingly, attitudes to what the government should do are broadly similar across different types of business.

When participants were asked about the challenges they face as a business, respondents ranked maintaining or growing revenue, rising costs and gaining new customers as the top three most difficult business challenges faced in the past six months and anticipated for the next half year.

"American small businesses are the driving force of our economy," said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions. "However, they are sending a clear and powerful message. Although they have the will and potential to thrive in a market they love, they want more support and fewer bureaucratic walls from the government. As a company that serves small to midsized businesses in this country, our research is focused on gaining a greater understanding of the challenges and issues our customers face. This allows us to improve our services to meet their needs and advocate on their behalf where appropriate in this challenging economic environment."

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

Survey Methodology
The Sage Business Index survey was conducted by independent research firm Populus, which provided online interviews with decision makers in businesses of 1-500 employees in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Austria, from which 10,006 responses were received.

The index is based on a scale of one to 100 where 0 means a significant decline, 100 means a significant improvement, and 50 means it is no different. For comparison to past results, we retrospectively applied this index methodology to the countries that took place in the first business survey in February 2011 (US, Canada, UK, Germany and France).

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 3,900 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 company website at www.SageNorthAmerica.com. Follow Sage North America on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SageNorthAmerica, and Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/sagenamerica.

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