Cargo’s fall 2014 survey of small business owners showed several significant changes from its April 2014 study. Optimism among small business owners dropped 6.6 percent in just six months, as did the number who believe their businesses will have good growth in the next 12 months.
Greenville-based Cargo specializes in business-to-small-business marketing. Its studies intend to help marketers better understand what is happening inside small businesses in order to better fill their needs. Of the businesses surveyed, about 33 percent were women-owned. About 19 percent were owned by minorities.
Cargo attributes the more negative outlook to the problems owners reported.
The top challenge among small business owners was balancing work and personal life, according to 39 percent of respondents – a 13 percent increase from the previous survey. Earlier this year, the biggest challenge was the rising costs of employee benefits. That concern dropped down to No. 7, after gaining/maintaining a competitive advantage, hiring and retention, planning and other concerns. Planning for the future was as the single hardest part of running a business, respondents said. They are also spending less time on purchasing decisions.
As for dealing with companies that market to or support their businesses, owners said the quality of the product or service they received was their biggest frustration, followed closely by responsiveness and customer service.
The study also found that 55 percent of small business owners spend three or more hours online each day for business-related matters, a 28 percent increase. Email was the most preferred method of follow-up.
“And if you really want to know when to catch them, Mondays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. is the highest day part of the week for all small business Internet usage,” the study’s authors said.
“The main thing brand marketers need to adhere to,” says Cargo managing director Dan Gliatta, “is relevance. Ensure your communications are directed specifically at the small business you’re targeting and you’ll instantly gain the respect of the overworked and often under-valued small business owner.”
The full report is available for download at thecargoagency.com.