Survey finds cautious optimism among small businesses

Small business owners are slowly growing more confident about their companies and the economy — but they’re also still cautious about hiring and expanding.

American Express surveyed small business owners from late February through early March and found that 34 percent expect their businesses to grow during the next six months, regardless of how the economy fares. That’s up from 31 percent last fall. Meanwhile, the number of owners who expect the economy to hurt their business in the next six months fell to 27 percent from 34 percent.

But close to half the owners surveyed — 44 percent — said they have no plans to hire or may cut their staff in the next six months. The good news is that’s down from 61 percent last fall. Thirty-five percent said they would be hiring, up from 31 percent.

Using their companies’ performance as a guide, 35 percent of the survey participants said the economy is recovering, up from 24 percent last fall. The number of owners who said we’re still in a recession fell slightly from the fall, to 34 percent from 38 percent.

Small business owners have taken a number steps to keep afloat. Forty-one percent said they had stopped hiring, and the same amount said they had frozen staffers’ salaries. Thirty-six percent said they dipped into their own savings or other personal assets to help the business. Twenty-eight percent brought a family member into the business without pay to help out.

More in Herald Business Journal

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

Under cloud of ethics probes, Airbus CEO Enders to step down

He leaves in 2019 after 14 years. Meanwhile, aircraft division CEO Fabrice Bregier leaves in February.

$4.99 sandwich promotion irks some Subway business owners

Management insists that “most franchisees support the promotion.”

Most Read