Small business owners upbeat on companies in the coming year

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Small business owners remain optimistic about their companies even as they are more concerned about the economy.

That’s the finding of a quarterly survey released Tuesday by Wells Fargo & Co.

Two-thirds of the 600 owners surveyed last month said their companies’ financial situation today is good, up slightly from 65 per cent in a similar survey taken in the fourth quarter. And 71 per cent said they expected their companies to be in good financial shape 12 months from when the survey was taken; that’s also little changed from 70 per cent in the previous survey.

When asked about the most important challenge facing their companies, 14 per cent said finding customers; that was the most-often cited challenge and was up from 11 per cent in the previous survey. Eleven per cent cited the economy, up from 8 per cent.

The survey was in line with one released last week by the advocacy group National Small Business Association, which found a slight increase in the number of owners with a bleaker view of the economy, but three-quarters of owners upbeat about their own companies’ prospects. The NSBA survey was taken in December.

Many owners have had more faith in their ability to manage their companies than they do in the ability of the economy to gain strength. The results of both surveys show that owners sensed the economy had weakened at the end of 2015. The Commerce Department reported at the end of January that the gross domestic product had grown at an annual rate of just 0.7 per cent during the fourth quarter.

Half the owners in the Wells Fargo survey expect their revenue to increase, up from 47 per cent. And owners’ hiring plans were unchanged, with 26 per cent expecting to take on more employees.