A new survey says almost half (49 percent) of small and midsize business (SMB) leaders think general business conditions will be slightly or much better six months from now.
Only 27 percent of those surveyed in the Winter 2012 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot believe those same conditions will be slightly or much worse; yet, despite the overall optimism, nearly half (45 percent) expect hiring levels in 2013 to fall short of this year's.
The Snapshot is a blind survey of 435 executives who own or manage a small to medium-sized business with 10 or more employees. The objective of the survey is to provide timely insights into relevant business and technology issues impacting small and mid-sized businesses. Company size ranged from less than $250,000 in revenue to more than $5 million. Industries were represented as follows: 38 percent business services, 36 percent retail and manufacturing, 19 percent personal services and 7 percent nonprofit.
As the so-called "fiscal cliff" approaches, more than half (51 percent) of those surveyed said taxes are the biggest immediate threat to the success of SMBs in the U.S., followed by government regulations (41 percent), the cost of labor (34 percent) and the federal deficit (32 percent).
Small business leaders also expect technology to play a major role in their businesses in 2013. Network access, desktop/laptop management, applications, mobile services, enterprise-grade voice and broadband services, and cloud services were all tapped as very important or somewhat important in the coming year.
More specifically, the cloud is gaining traction among SMB leaders. Of the respondents, more than one in five (21 percent) said operating their business without cloud services (use of hardware and software delivered as a service over the Internet) would be a major challenge. The majority of cloud users also find significant benefits from the technology, with 83 percent stating the cloud made them more flexible; 78 percent crediting the cloud for making them more productive and 71 percent stating that the cloud is saving them money.
The survey also includes findings on SMB usage of onsite and offsite servers, business continuity planning, offsite data backups and cyber security. More results are available here.