Survey: Small-Business Owners Eye Rosier Days


Marketing to small business owners may be getting easier, according to the latest survey from Office Depot. More small businesses say they are expecting higher sales and profits in the months ahead, and they expect to spend more money as well.

More than half of the small- and mid-sized businesses the retailer surveys say the economy is headed in a positive direction, with 56% expecting it to improve. As a result, 70% are forecasting a jump in their sales, and 67% expect to see an increase in their profits. But there are still some major concerns, with 80% worried about inflation and 74% anxious about financing. And 80% say they do not expect to make any new hires in the next six months.

"Small businesses remain the lifeblood of the economy, and while our survey shows that many are predicting growth this year, we continue to see them raise concerns about the costs of doing business," said Neil Austrian, Interim Chairman and CEO for Office Depot, in a release on the survey results.



The chain's poll, which included more than 1,000 business owners, also found that small businesses are well on top of looming tax deadlines, with 82% expecting to file by the end of March. (Half of those surveyed prepare their own taxes, with the other half using outside preparers.) Over four in 10 say they don't expect a refund.

But they're not confident that they fully understand their tax situation, either. Less than half know what changes their state has made in the tax code in the last year, and capital gains are the most befuddling -- generating twice as many questions as health care, and four times more than real estate or 401(k) plans.

And not surprisingly, H&R Block says small-business issues are also topping its list of most-asked questions. With unemployment in the 9.5% range for much of 2010, it says, more people opened small businesses and are not aware that they can deduct up to $10,000 of eligible start-up costs -- up from $5,000 in 2009.

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