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Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer

Traveling around most urban areas of the United States and witnessing the large number of new businesses and the volume of residential housing under construction certainly gives the impression that now is a good time to be in business. Most economic indicators support what is evident on the street. For instance, the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce recently announced that construction spending in January 2016 was up 10.4 percent from January 2015. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, was recently quoted in a USA Today article saying, “The environment (for small businesses) is certainly as good as it’s been since before the recession" of 2007-09.

While the current political posturing of presidential candidates would lead many to believe that all is doom and gloom in America, and that the nation is on the brink of financial ruin, most business owners have forged ahead and have an optimistic outlook on their prospects for 2016 and beyond. This truth bears out in a nationwide survey of small business owners conducted by Allstate Insurance and USA Today, which found that 53 percent of those surveyed are stating that now is the best time to be a small business owner. Their positive outlook is rooted in the benefits of new technology, the generally improving economy, and more favorable lending conditions. "Despite some global and national economic uncertainty, local entrepreneurs are bullish about their prospects," says Stacy Sharpe, senior vice president of corporate relations at Allstate.

Of the 2,640 small businesses surveyed, 61 percent said they were doing well, and nearly 80 percent said that over the past three months their business grew the same or more than it did in the year-ago period. Thirty-one percent were hiring or planning to do so in the next three months, up from 22 percent that brought on new employees the previous three months.

The results of the survey were also used to produce the Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer, which provides a multi-dimensional snapshot of the current small business environment. The barometer points out several important findings:

  1. Nearly 90 percent of small business owners believe the benefits of owning a small business outweigh the challenges. For many, intangible benefits such as being one's own boss and flexible hours were cited as the main benefits of owning one's own business.
  2. Seventy-nine percent of small business owners reported that in the past three months, their businesses have grown the same as or more than in the same period last year. Small business owners are optimistic about the future and 53 percent believe there has never been a better time to own a small business
  3. Sixty-four percent of small business owners think their businesses will do well in 2016; over 70 percent of female and minority small business owners say the same. Despite the added challenges that women and minority small business owners face, they are more hopeful and optimistic about the future of their businesses.

The Institute’s Minority Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, and Small Business Transportation Resource Center provide guidance and assistance to entrepreneurs seeking to grow a successful business. Visit www.TheInstituteNC.org to learn more about these programs.