Tag Archive for 'Poll Question'

Brick and Mortar Move Over

Our most recent poll question in the Newsletter and on our website was about e-commerce. We asked this question: How much of your small business’ annual sales revenue comes from online sales? Here’s what our respondents said:

  • Five percent of respondents said online sales represented 100% of their revenue.
  • Fourteen percent said more than half of their sales came from the Internet.
  • A little more than 50% of respondents said online sales counted for less than half of total   revenue.
  • And about one fourth said they had no online sales.

In terms of the Internet age, e-commerce has been around for a big chunk of that period. But compared to the traditional marketplace, the practice of selling online is still in its infancy. So I’m actually quite pleased with the response mix we got, especially that 75% of our participants are producing some sales through e-commerce.  I’ll have more to say, including some research on this subject, next week.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.

Money to lend, but no takers

For almost two years politicians on both sides of the aisle have been saying that one of the big problems with the economy is that small businesses can’t get loans from banks. For that same period I’ve asked small business owners - and independent community bankers - on my radio program why more loans aren’t being made, and their answers have been consistent: Small banks have money to lend, but small business owners are not asking for loans.

Since the Obama Administration’s most recent attempt to tweak economic recovery is about making more money available to small banks so they will make more small business loans, last week we asked our small business Newsletter subscribers and website visitors what they thought about this. More than 80% said they either could borrow money from a bank if they needed it, or wouldn’t borrow money from a bank even if it were easier. Only 16% said getting a loan would help them now.

Sadly, we continue to see how disconnected many of the political class are from the real concerns of the sector that produces over half of the U.S. GDP and employs over half of all American workers. Small business owners aren’t going to take risks - which is what getting a business loan is all about - as long as they’re uncertain about the future: the future of taxes, the future of health care expense, the future of energy costs, the future of union influence, etc., etc.

Mr. President, if you really want to know what small businesses need, you should do what I do - ask them.

Thank you for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio, and on the Internet.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.

Small business owners answer questions about retirement

Who gets the money: the business or your retirement plan?

One of the greatest challenges for any growing small business is the fact that, kind of like a teenager, your business will always have its hand out for more money.  Indeed, there will NEVER be a time when you won’t have real, bona fide, justified upgrades, maintenance and/or market opportunities to spend your money on.

If you actually have the retained earnings to consider putting back in the business, congratulations; that means you’re doing something right.  But at some point you’re going to have to decide how to split that pot of money between investing in the business and investing in a non-business-related retirement plan.

We wanted to know how you were handling this decision and asked our NEWSLETTER subscribers and website visitors what they were doing about personal retirement. Here’s what our respondents told us:

44% said: I have a retirement plan I’m contributing to every year.
24% said: At this stage, every extra dollar is reinvested in my small business.
4% said: The recession is preventing me from contributing to a retirement plan.
28% said: I’m just trying to survive - retirement seems like a luxury right now.

It’s very pleasing to see the way this poll turned out. The largest single response was in favor of funding a retirement plan and about a third (combining the last two) were not funding retirement due to the economic conditions.   And, frankly, I was surprised to see that only about a fourth said they were giving all their money to the business.

There is no silver bullet answer to this issue for small business owners, but just be careful to not let your “teenager” become too greedy.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.

Small business owners answer questions about growth

One of the big issues these days is why the economy isn’t growing. Many people believe one reason is because businesses, especially small ones, are so uncertain about the future that they aren’t taking the risks associated with growth activity, like hiring more people, borrowing money or other expansion steps.

We wanted to know what small business owners think about this, so we asked our NEWSLETTER subscribers and website visitors to tell us about their perspectives on growth opportunity. Here is the question we asked: Please, tell us where you fall in this issue. “I am not taking growth steps because…”

Here’s how our respondents answered:

23% said:  I’m worried about the economy in general.

15% said:  I can’t get financing to fund growth opportunities.

58% said:  Government actions make me uncertain about the future.

4% said:  We are not experiencing growth opportunities

Perhaps the good news is that only four percent of our respondents indicated they were not experiencing growth opportunities.  The bad news is, as you can see above, 96% of responders were so troubled by three issues that they either can’t or aren’t growing their businesses.

These responses track pretty closely with others I have seen lately.  There is no way to sugar-coat this: When small business owners are troubled, the economy is troubled.  I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do know that my prediction earlier this year in an article titled, “The shape of this recovery is M” is coming to pass. This recovery is more of a marathon not a sprint.

But we’ve come too far to quit now.  This is no hill for a climber, and you’re a climber.  I’m proud of you. You should be proud of yourself.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.

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