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73% of U.S. Small Business Owners Optimistic About 2016 Success, According to Credibly Small Business Survey


Minyang Jiang

Considering that small businesses are the primary engine of the U.S. economy, optimism among business owners can be an important indicator of economic health. Fortunately, American business owners are feeling quite positive right now.

In November 2015, Credibly polled over 1,400 small business owners from across the United States about a variety of topics related to business ownership. When asked “What is your outlook on the success of your business in the next 12 months?,” a full 73.1% of survey respondents said their outlook was either “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable.”

Understanding Business Owner Optimism

Owners of technology companies reflected the most optimism of any industry subtype, with 77.8% reporting a favorable outlook on the next 12 months, including 51.1% who reported that their future outlook was “very favorable.” Owners of manufacturing companies were the least optimistic industry group, with just 61.5% reporting a favorable outlook on the success of their businesses in the next 12 months.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, optimism corresponded strongly with an owner’s time in business. Among startup owners in business for less than six months, a full 94.9% reported a favorable outlook over the next 12 months, with 91.0% calling their outlook “very favorable.”[1] The least optimistic group were the small business veterans: Only 56.2% of business owners with more than 20 years of ownership under their belts reported a favorable outlook for the coming year.

small business owners future outlook of success time in business

Only 6.9% of total survey respondents answered that their future outlook was either “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable.” One-fifth of respondents (20.0%) reported that they had a neutral outlook on the year ahead.

The Optimism Stems From a Strong Economy And an Increase in Demand

The generally high level of optimism among business owners corresponds with strong business demand over the last year.

In the same Credibly survey, small business owners were asked “Over the last year, have you seen an increased or decreased demand for your product/service?” and 57.7% responded that they noticed a “significant increase” or “slight increase” in demand, compared to just 10.2% who reported a significant or slight decrease in demand.

Owners of restaurants and other food/drink establishments were the big winners, with a full 79.8% reporting that they saw increased demand over the last year. And if you own a business in New England, count yourself lucky: 81.8% of total business owners in the region[2] reported increased demand for their product or service over the last year, more than any other area of the country.

From a surging labor market to continued GDP growth, there are many signs that the U.S. economy is stronger today than it was a year ago — and small business owners appear to be ready to capitalize in 2016.

small business owners u.s. regions demand

[1] Optimism also tended to favor the young. According to the survey, 80.34% of business owners aged 25-34 reported a favorable outlook for their success in the next 12 months — making them the most optimistic age group. At the other end of the spectrum, just 62.42% of business owners aged 55-64 shared the same positive outlook on the next 12 months.

[2] Including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.