Has running a local small business gotten harder?

That’s what the results from a new survey from Constant Contact shows. In their “Small Businesses: Then and Now Survey”, conducted last month, they found that fifty-nine percent of small businesses believe it’s harder to run a business today than five years ago, with more than half citing an economy that has hit their business hard.

Of the 59 percent of survey respondents who said it’s harder to run a business today than five years ago:

  • 55 percent said the economy has hit their business hard
  • 49 percent said it’s harder to keep pace with technology
  • 40 percent said there’s more direct competition

The Good News

While this might seem all doom and gloom for owners of local small businesses, seventy-two percent of the respondents expect 2013 revenue to outperform 2012 revenues.

The small group of twelve percent that said it is easier to run a business than it was five years ago; eight-nine percent cited online marketing tools have made that the case. Survey respondents gave additional reasons for their answer including that online marketing is less expensive, people care about supporting local businesses and there are fewer direct competitors.

Location, Location, Location

When asked if they think being locally owned is a major reason why customers support their business today fifty-one percent of respondents said yes, up from the forty-two percent who thought it was a major reason why customers supported their business five years ago.

Ch, Ch, Changes

Things have changed a lot in the last five years. When asked how they do business today versus five years ago:

  • 84 percent said using, or using more, online marketing tools
  • 27 percent said using, or using more, automated business solutions (payroll, inventory, etc.)

It’s in the (e)Mail or on your Feed

Email marketing continues to be one channel most small business are using today (sixty-four percent 5 years ago, ninety-eight percent today) along with social media (eighty-seven percent today versus ten percent 5 years ago). This is no surprise, as social media has become part of our daily routines in the last 5 years.

While things might have gotten harder for your local small business, now is not the time to just let things happen. Customers might not be waiting to hear about your business, but when exposed to it and given the opportunity to engage with it, they will pay attention. Determining how you will break through the clutter is the first step to take.

By Marc Apple