Small Business Owners Cast a More Positive Outlook

May 25, 2007 ( - Nearly 40% of small business owners say they believe Social Security will fund less than 25% of their retirement, but 58% think the program is salvageable with private investment accounts, a recent survey by American Express found.

According to the survey of about 630 respondents, small business owners are more concerned about their retirement security than they were in the Fall, with 66% saying that is the case. More than half (57%) of business owners report they are on track to save the funds they need for retirement, compared to 55% last Spring.

“Entrepreneurs are a bellwether for many of the country s most important industries because they are so closely connected to purchasing decisions, said Susan Sobbott, president, OPEN from American Express, in the release about the survey. “Business owners continue to grow in their optimism, a good sign for the small business sector and the economy in general.

Sixty percent of small business owners plan to make capital investments over the next six months, and they plan to invest most heavily in technology (45%). In addition to technology, other investment areas include office equipment (22%), office furnishings (15%), manufacturing/production equipment (14%) and real estate (13%).

A Hiring Up-tick for Small Business Owners

Thirty-six percent of small business owners say they plan to hire full and/or part-time staff in the next six months, but only 28% say they will raise salaries to attract qualified employees, according to the survey.

Seventy-two percent of those that plan to hire say they want to do so in an effort to grow their businesses and 35% say they want to do so because they have a new business venture.

Handling the Pressure

Sixty-four percent of small business owners find it stressful to strike a work/life balance, with women seeing as it a greater challenge than men. In fact, 20% say their greatest frustration is being strapped for time, followed by managing employees (16%) and finding the money to fund their business (15%).

Business owners identified flexibility as the most essential entrepreneurial attribute, with 34% saying that is the case, while only 18% saying that knowing the market is the most essential entrepreneurial attribute.

However, male business owners are more likely to find themselves making sacrifices in their personal lives in order to be an entrepreneur when compared to women (73% vs. 65%).Respondents said that the greatest sacrifice they’ve made in order to run their own business is in terms of family (52%) and friends (42%), followed by personal finances (36%) and health (35%).