Small-business optimism up for first time since March
Optimism among Canadian small- and mid-sized businesses increased in September for the first time since March, ending a five-month consecutive decline, according to the latest business barometer index from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, based on a sampling of about 900 members.
The index hit 62.0 in September, up two points from its reading of 60.0 in August.
"After a five-consecutive month decline in business confidence through the spring and summer, small business owners were a little more upbeat in September," said CFIB chief economist and vice-president Ted Mallett, in the release about the latest index.
"Despite this good news, however," he added, "the index level still suggests Canada's economy is growing at below-average rates."
The index usually ranges beween 65 and 70 when the eonomy is growing as it should, according to CFIB. It's measured on a scale between 0 and 100, with levels above 50 meaning the number of owners expecting their businesses' performance to be stronger in the next year is higher than the number expecting weaker performance.
More than half of U.S. entrepreneurs would not start a business today: poll
Ahead of the presidential debate, more than half – 55 per cent – of U.S. small businesses would not start a business today, given the current economic climate, and two-thirds say that economic uncertainty is keeping them from expanding or hiring new employees, according to a joint survey sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.
That same figure – 55 per cent – also think the U.S. economy is worse than it was three years ago, found the poll of 800 small-business owners and decision-makers.
Where are the sales from social media?
With everyone jumping on the social media bandwagon, here's a sober statistic to consider: Less than 1 per cent of sales come from social media efforts, according to a new study reported by Inc. here , on MIT Sloan Management Review here, on Mashable here and on Marketing Pilgrim here.
The study by Forrester Research found that under 1 per cent of more than 77,000 transactions between April 1 and April 14 of this year could be traced specifically to social media efforts (see the graphics reprinted on these sites). More commonly, consumers made purchases because of direct-site visits, for 20 per cent, organic searches, 16 per cent, and paid searches, 11 per cent. For repeat customers, e-mail accounted for 30 per cent.
What should small businesses make of it? MIT Sloan Management notes that the study did not include small businesses, and points to a New York Times story in which one of the study's authors said that small businesses are doing better with "F-commerce" – Facebook – than larger ones. It also notes that the study did not say whether the social media efforts were actually directly trying to go after sales.
MIT Sloan Management's conclusion: "We think the research does show precisely what it says: that at this point in time, sales are not coming directly from social sites. This fact should be an important consideration in how businesses think about their social business activity: in short, don't count on it for direct sales."
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Small Business Summit
T minus one: Tomorrow brings The Globe and Mail's Small Business Summit to Vancouver. From success stories to early-stage financing and all matters of interest to entrepreneurs in between, the one-day event offers all sorts of insights to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. For registration, click here.
Small Business Week across the country
With Small Business Week running from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20, there will be numerous events around the theme held across the country. For an entry point to begin checking out what's going on, click into the Business Development Bank of Canada's site here for events calendars, which will be updated.
EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS
How to keep team culture when employees go home to work
National recruiting firm David Aplin Group wants to change its model so that all employees work part-time in the office and part-time at home. This week's Challenge: how to keep the team dynamic going when employees go home to work.
FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES
Tips and tricks to make the telecommuting switch
Even though telecommuting still constitutes a relatively tiny minority of employees in North America, the number is growing fairly rapidly, wrote Omar El Akkad last October as part of a four-part series that examined the telecommuting trend. Check out the series here, here, here and here.
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