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Confidence grows among small business owners

Date posted:  5/4/14 12:30:00 PM Small-business owners are showing improved optimism in 2014.

Consumer confidence took a dive in March, but that hasn't stopped small business owners from fielding a more optimistic outlook regarding the 2014 economy.

While the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index showed consumer confidence fell slightly in March, marketing company Cargo and Toluna reported small business owners have a positive outlook about what the future holds compared to the previous year.

Cargo and Toluna released its "B-Side" study, which has been conducted for three years. It takes into account the state of small businesses by surveying owners of small companies regarding their hopes for future business, their concerns and their thoughts about goods and services marketed to them.

"Not all small business owners are created equal," Dan Gliatta, managing director for Cargo, told Greenville Online. "There's a difference between going after a business with zero to 99 employees and 200 to 500, or a woman-owned or minority-owned small business. They all consume media differently."

The report showed small business owner optimism climbed to 71 percent, a six percent increase from 2013. Nearly four out of five business proprietors also forecast growth for the remainder of the year.

Reason for a positive outlook

Marquin Campbell, owner of the jewelry company Marquin Designs and event and painting studio Vino and van Gogh, told Greenville Online that she anticipates solid growth for her businesses in 2014. Campbell gave her businesses a 30 percent goal for improvement as part of her company's 2014 business plan, but that might have been too modest. Campbell said she's surpassed that mark in just the first three months of the year.

Part of her business plan included adding a number of strategic changes to spur growth for Vino and van Gogh. One of the major components was adding children's classes and offering more in-depth classes for adults.

"Just trying to be aware of planning has really helped me be a little more strategic as far as numbers are, as far as forecasting," Campbell said. "For me, I see it as like a puzzle and I really enjoy putting it together. I also think if you're not changing and trying out different things in your business then it gets a little stale."

Campbell has also slashed the prices of her summer camps for those who purchased in January. Things are running smoothly for the business owner, as the camps have already sold out. Campbell said she is one of the small business owners that feels growing optimism concerning the economy, though much of that - like other entrepreneurs - is internal.

"I think that's the entrepreneurial spirit," Campbell said. "I think if you're an entrepreneur you're constantly thinking and innovating and coming up with different approaches."

The impact of small business on the economy

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for the fastest growing segment of the economy and staffs 97 percent of private employees.

"As the economy goes, small businesses go, and as small businesses go, the economy goes," said Gliatta, noting the influence of small business owners is growing.

Like Campbell, restaurateur Brant Kennedy said he is feeling more optimistic this year, although for more localized reasons. Kennedy said construction work outside his restaurant practically shut down his patio area due to loud noise and debris. Now that the construction is gone, Kennedy is ready to utilize the additional space.

"With that development I'm feeling really optimistic about business this year, and business has been good," Kennedy told Greenville Online.

Kennedy said he's trying to attract more customers by serving up quality food at a respectable price.

"We'd like for them to make our spot their regular spot," he said.