It’s no secret that running a small business can be tough. According to new survey data from Constant Contact®, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTCT), it’s gotten even harder over the last five years. Constant Contact’s “ Small Businesses: Then and Now Survey”, conducted in May 2013, found that 59 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. Only 17 percent said the economy is better today than it was five years ago. The good news? Seventy-two percent expect 2013 revenue to outperform 2012 revenues. What’s Harder and What’s Easier Today? 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.
Dealing with ChangeWhen asked what the three biggest changes are in how they do business today versus how they did business five years ago:
- 84 percent said using, or using more, online marketing tools.
- 59 percent said general economic uncertainty.
- 27 percent said using, or using more, automated business solutions (payroll, inventory, etc.).
Customer InsightsSmall businesses paint a classic good news/bad news scenario when it comes to today’s customer. While 55 percent of respondents said the volume of customers has increased over the last five years, and 49 percent said customers spend more money at their business now than five years ago, 63 percent said customers have higher expectations today than five years ago. They also say customers expect more value (71 percent) and more discounts (52 percent) today than five years ago, making it harder to turn a profit today. Respondents were fairly evenly split as to whether it’s easier (30 percent) or harder (35 percent) to find new customers today. For those who think it’s easier:
- 53 percent credit more affordable online marketing tools.
- 40 percent credit time-saving marketing tools.
- 28 percent credit customer response to marketing.
- 49 percent say customers are paying less attention to marketing.
- 45 percent say there is more direct competition.
- 23 percent say it’s more expensive to do marketing.
- 23 percent say they can’t keep pace with all of the online marketing tools.
About the SurveyThis Constant Contact-sponsored survey was administered in May of 2013 to 917 small business participants in the Constant Contact Small Biz Council – a research panel of US small businesses recruited from the Constant Contact customer base. This survey was fielded to those panel members who have been in a decision-making role in a small business for at least five years, and they were asked their opinions on how operating a small business today differs than five years ago. This survey is part of an ongoing series about the state of small businesses and the ways they connect with, and grow, their audiences. Results include responses from respondents across a range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries. About Constant Contact®, Inc. Constant Contact wrote the book on Engagement Marketing™ – the new marketing success formula that helps small organizations create and grow customer relationships in today’s socially connected world. More than half a million small businesses, nonprofits and associations worldwide use the company’s online marketing tools to generate new customers, repeat business, and referrals through email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, local deals, digital storefronts, and online surveys. Only Constant Contact offers the proven combination of affordable tools and free KnowHow®, including local seminars, personal coaching and award-winning product support. The company further supports small organizations through its extensive network of consultants/resellers, technology providers, franchises and national associations. Constant Contact and the Constant Contact Logo are registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All Constant Contact product names and other brand names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. (CTCT-F)