Is the Economy Finally Improving? Small Business Weighs In…

As the nation wraps up its 50th annual celebration of National Small Business Week today in Washington, D.C., with the announcement of who will be named 2013’s National Small Business Person of the Year, the latest spate of positive news regarding business owner sentiment is particularly meaningful. For anyone who has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the economy to show some real signs of improvement before buying a business opportunity, distributorship, licensee opportunity or franchise and launching a small business of their own, now just may be your time.

4d9689a642ee7.preview-300First, U.S. home-builder optimism about home sales has hit a seven-year high and building permit applications to build single-family homes are at a five-year high, all of which is anticipated to drive stronger economic growth in the coming months. Additionally, findings released just this week from three surveys paint an encouraging picture of what many believe lies ahead for America’s small businesses and their owners:

• According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business optimism rose to a one-year high in May, the second straight month of gains with eight of the index’s ten components showing positive improvement. (For more information on the NFIB’s findings, click here.)

• While they say they are working harder than they were five years ago, 72% of the small business owners who were interviewed for Constant Contact’s “Then and Now” survey say it is paying off in that they expect to generate more sales this year than last as a result. Additionally, respondents offered critical insights on such topics as why “local” matters more than ever, how faster and cheaper marketing options coupled with overall automation are positively affecting the bottom line and why the fact that consumers are so much savvier is having an impact. Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that a full six in 10 surveyed said that they expect their business to be “thriving” in five years.

• Capping off this latest trifecta of news reflecting how small business owners expect they will fare moving forward is business coaching and “think-tank” facilitator TAB’s (The Alternative Board) quarterly Business Pulse Survey. While representing feedback from a smaller sample of just 300 private small business owners, the survey’s findings nonetheless echo many of the sentiments cited previously: 69% of those surveyed reported improvement in their local economy versus one year ago; 75% expect sales to rise over the next year; 67% predict their overall profits will increase; and 43% intend to increase their full-time hiring in the coming year. (For more about TAB’s Pulse Survey findings, click here.)

As NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg so adequately summed it all up in a recent statement, “Two good months don’t make a trend, but we can’t have a trend without them, so it’s a start.” We can all only hope that 2013 will go down in history as the year when America’s recovery from its second most devastating economic collapse on record really did take a turn for the better. Of course, only time will tell for sure if this really is the beginning of the end, but for today, so far so good.

HOT TOPIC! What do you think? Is America’s economy finally getting back on track? As a small business owner, what signs are you seeing that lead you to think one way or the other?  Let us hear from you…