Atlanta Small Businesses Owners See Rosy Future

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    Black Business Owners Agree with New Study

    A majority of Atlanta’s small business owners anticipate that their revenue will increase next year according to a recent bank study — and many African-American small business owners agree.

    Melanie Few Harrison, president and owner of Results Marketing & Media Inc. fully expects to see growth in her company in 2013 as does Michael Davis, owner/operator of Cartridge World in Camp Creek Market Place and Brian A.M. Green of F&G Event Production & Management.

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    “My company is expecting a slow but steady climb that will allow us to hire new consultants and increase our bottom line as the economy continues to improve,” says Few-Harrison.

    The study also finds that while a majority expects their staffing needs to remain consistent, one-third plan to hire more employees.
    These findings are the result of the 2012 Bank of America Small Business Report, a semi-annual study focusing on the concerns, aspirations and viewpoints of small business owners across the country.

    The survey, which included an oversampling of small business owners across the Atlanta market, also found that a majority of Atlanta’s small business owners are planning on sustaining or growing their businesses, with more than one-third (36 percent) planning to hire more employees, while 50 percent expect their staffing needs will remain consistent.

    The survey revealed 58 percent of Atlanta business owners surveyed anticipate that revenue will increase in 2013, while only seven percent expect revenue to decline. However, the report also indicates uncertainty among these business owners on the economy with only 42 percent confident that their local economy will improve over the next 12 months.

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    Other findings the survey revealed include:

    The significance of Atlanta’s local economy

    More than half (53 percent) reported that the majority of their customers come from their local community, compared to 36 percent who indicated that their customers come primarily from outside their local community but within the U.S. Few-Harrison, whose business is a faith-based entertainment consulting agency, agrees that “the local community is definitely a driver in the success of most small businesses.”

    “Small businesses can tailor their services and marketing activities to the community, which in turn creates a loyal customer base,” she adds.

    Black Friday has little impact on bottom line

    The survey also found that Black Friday has little if any impact on Atlanta small business owners, with 76 percent also saying Cyber Monday is overhyped. Green notes, “These two days are about moving product for the holidays and is primarily geared toward the larger retailers. They have the dollars for the major advertising campaigns, and the staff and the flexibility to open their doors at extreme hours.”

    Larger Business: asset or adversary?

    Davis’ company is a specialty retailer of ink and toner print cartridges providing refilled and remanufactured printer cartridges. His business is seven doors down from mega office retailer Staples, which he views as an asset. “Being close to a major retailer like Staples actually has its benefits,” says Davis. “I’m within walking distance, which offers customers a convenient option, plus I’m able to adjust pricing or run specials at anytime, and I have more face time with customers, which builds trust and keeps them coming back.”

    Only one in four (25 percent) respondents views larger businesses as their biggest competitors. Seventy-nine percent indicate they have larger businesses as customers, and 29 percent say that larger businesses motivate them to become better small business owners.

    From a competitive perspective, Atlanta small business owners also cited similar factors as Davis that drive customers to choose them over larger businesses, including customer service (81 percent), quality (72 percent) and reliability/trust (70 percent). More than one in three (35 percent) Atlanta small business owners believe their customers choose them because they are local.

    Who small business owners turn to for financial guidance

    Forty percent of Atlanta small business owners describe themselves as “very savvy” regarding financial matters. When seeking advice, they tap into a broad network for help, including accountants/bookkeepers (71 percent), financial advisors (60 percent), their banker (50 percent) and other small business owners (48 percent).

    However, Davis offers a different view. “Small business owners are turning away from traditional funding methods to non-traditional methods such as crowd-funding and sites like Kiva.com, which connects thousands of people to borrowers and partner institutions around the world, working together to create opportunity. I believe this is the future for financing a small business.”

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