The State of Small Business

March 15th, 2016, Comments Off on The State of Small Business.

Seventy-nine percent of small-business owners continue to make growing their business a priority, but many are making personal sacrifices in the process.

According to the American Express OPEN Small Business Growth Pulse, 89% of small businesses indicate they invest a significant amount of their personal time to grow their business. Six in ten say they spend a larger percentage of time working on their business to drive growth than in their business managing details.

More than two-thirds (68%) of survey participants invest a substantial portion of their personal savings to help their businesses grow. But there is a difference between male and female business owners. Male business owners (72%) are more likely than their female counterparts (62%) to be investing personal funds to grow their business.

As they follow their path to growth, a number of small-business owners are planning both capital and talent investments. As many as 59% plan to hire staff over the next six months. Among those with hiring plans, 29% are planning to hire only full-time workers; 22% are planning to hire only part-time workers; and 8% are planning to hire both full and part-time workers.

Additionally, 71% plan to make capital investments, which include investments in computer and systems software/additional software licenses (42%) and manufacturing/production equipment (23%).

“As 2016 unfolds, small business owners are working harder than ever to position their businesses for growth,” said Janey Whiteside, SVP & GM Customer Marketing & Relationship Management, American Express OPEN. “The personal commitments that small business owners make are vital to their success, and their planned investments are indicative of how important growth is in the coming year.”

Challenges to growth
While survey participants remain confident in their ability to grow their businesses, the economy remains a top concern. Uncertain economic conditions were identified as the single greatest challenge business owners face (24%; up from 17% in August 2015), followed by concerns about the rising costs of doing business (17%; flat from August).

Cash flow is another cause for concern, as nearly two-thirds (64%) of small business owners expect to experience cash flow issues over the next six months. Their greatest cash flow concerns include:

  • Having enough cash on hand to win new business (18%)
  • The ability to accurately track cash flow (16%)
  • Accounts receivable (14%)

Despite these headwinds, small-business owners see various ways to meet these challenges and grow their businesses. When asked about the top two most important triggers that could take their business to the next level, 40% said expanding their product/service offerings, while 34% said expanding the market for their current products and services.

The majority of survey participants are confident that they can access the funding they need to grow their business. When looking at how they will fund and grow their businesses, 71% identify credit and charge cards as an important tool and 35% see them as a “very” important tool.

Given the importance of credit cards as a source of short-term funding, three quarters (76%) of survey participants who use credit cards for business expenses indicate that an increase in their credit limit would be beneficial to their business. And among those who have hit their credit limit, more than half (57%) have attempted to have their limit increased.

The survey is based on an online sample of 1,001 U.S. small-business owners/managers of companies with $250,000 or more in revenues and fewer than 100 employees. It was conducted via the Internet by Ebiquity from December 9-18, 2015.

Ayo Mseka
Editor-in-Chief

Hawaii is First in Well-Being Rankings

March 7th, 2016, Comments Off on Hawaii is First in Well-Being Rankings.

This may come as no surprise to you–Hawaii has achieved the highest overall well-being ranking in the nation. This analysis is based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, a definitive measure and empiric database of real-time changes in well-being throughout the world.

Over 177,000 interviews with individuals nationwide were included in the 2015 analysis, which goes beyond physical components to capture how Americans feel and experience the context of their daily lives.

In addition to capturing aspects of physical health, the Well-Being Index examines Americans’ perceptions on topics that span individuals’ sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security and relationship to their community. These five interrelated elements are proven to directly influence quality of life, health-care costs and workplace productivity.

“Americans struggle notoriously when it comes to balancing day-to-day life with behaviors that can keep us well. The time is right for policymakers, employers and the community to work together to improve well-being across our nation,” said Donato J. Tramuto, CEO, Healthways.

“Leaders are beginning to step up as champions, investing to help their employees, members, and citizens live and work better, to realize healthier lifestyles and better manage illness. These leaders know that investments in well-being have a measurable and sustainable impact on business performance, as well as far-reaching benefits that impact the health of communities, states and our nation as a whole,” he continued.

Hawaii reclaimed the top spot as the state with the highest well-being. Alaska slipped to second. Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona and California rounded out the top 10.

More findings

Additional insights on the state rankings include:

  • In addition to its highest overall score, Hawaii ranked #1 in physical well-being and ranks in the top 10 for every element except social well-being.
  • Hawaii and Colorado are the only two states to finish in the top 10 in all eight years of the rankings, with Hawaii occupying the 1st or 2nd spot every year but 2013.
  • Since 2012, Hawaii and Colorado join eight other states – Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, Alaska and Vermont – as having the most consistently high well-being.
  • Florida and Alabama had large positive shifts in well-being, with Florida moving up 14 spots in the ranking to 12th overall and Alabama jumping 18 places to 28th overall.

“We are seeing many significant positive developments in well-being nationally, including a decline in the uninsured rate, a decline in smoking and an uptick in financial well-being, but there is still much to be done on the national front and at the state and organizational level,” said Dan Witters, Principal, Research Director, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Gallup.

“One specific area of concern continues to be the obesity rate, which continued its relentless upward climb in 2015 and reached another new high, breaking the 28% barrier for the first time. It would behoove state and local leaders of government, as well as employers and health plans, to take a close look at all of the factors influencing the well-being of their constituents in order to build meaningful strategies for improvement.”

In the U.S, higher well-being has been shown to correlate with lower health-care costs and increased worker productivity, in turn enhancing organizational and community competitiveness. Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism and willingness to help others.

“Recent research at HERO demonstrates a compelling correlation between companies that deliver strong financial returns and those that have documented, best practice wellness programs,” said Paul Terry, president and CEO, HERO (the Health Enhancement Research Organization). “This knowledge can benefit business leaders looking for a competitive edge and investors looking for a sound investment.”

“Data now indicates that people do not leave their problems at their doorsteps when they leave home nor do they leave their work challenges at their desks when they leave work,” added Tramuto. “As leaders, we have an indispensable opportunity to help move the needle and deliver on the constitutional promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.”

Ayo Mseka
Editor-in-Chief