The Global Manufacturer
Small Business and the Optimism Gap

Small Business and the Optimism Gap

Look at an issue in America and you’ll find a gap – a wage gap, education gap, skills gap, leadership gap, connectivity gap.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that when you read Bank of America’s latest small business owner survey, you’ll find another gap – the optimism gap. BoA surveyed 1,300 small business owners and found a significant difference in attitude between millennials (18-34 years old) and their older peers. Check out the numbers:

  • Expect their revenue to increase over next 12 months: 70% of millennials versus 51% overall
  • Plan to hire more employees in next 12 months: 52% of millennials versus 31% overall
  • Expect national economy to improve over next 12 months: 61% of millennials versus 41% overall
  • Expect their local economy to improve over next 12 months: 62% of millennials versus 45% overall
  • Plan to expand the products or services they offer: 72% of millennials versus 56% overall

During the Great Recession, optimism in the business world understandably took a licking, but there is evidence it is coming back. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation and LegalZoom found that 84% of entrepreneurs are confident or very confident about their companies’ prospects for profitability in the coming year. That’s a 1% improvement from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Confidence was even higher among millenials (18-30 in this study), where 96% said they were confident or very confident about their businesses’ prospects for increased profitability.

Optimism and confidence play a huge role in the entrepreneurial mindset, and their improvement speaks well for the continued recovery of the U.S. economy. Moreover, the innovative, computer-savvy manufacturing economy America needs to nurture requires the contributions of young entrepreneurs who are willing to take on the challenges of bringing new products and processes to market. So I’ve left this buzzkill for the end. It comes from a Congressional Research Service report on job creation and small businesses.

“Economic research on net job creation suggests that startups play a very important role in job creation, but have a more limited effect on net job creation over time because about one-third of all startups close by their second year of existence and fewer than half of all startups are still in business after five years.”

Reality may suck, but I say best of luck to the entrepreneurs and the optimists. Let’s hope they defy the odds. And if they don't - well, there's always tomorrow.

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