Bethpage Federal Credit Union Long Island Small Business Survey

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1 Bethpage Federal Credit Union Long Island Small Business Survey Report Prepared by STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR SURVEY RESEARCH April 2012 [1]

2 INTRODUCTION Bethpage Federal Credit Union sponsored a survey of over 600 Long Island small businesses to assess their attitudes to the health of their business, optimism about the future and plans for expansion, business conditions in the nation and on Long Island, and confidence in local business leadership. In addition to small business executives, one of the novel and significant features of the study was also a dedicated set of questions for business owners exclusively on the unique challenges and rewards of owning a small business. In this report, we refer to the survey respondents collectively as business executives, a term that covers a mix of business owners, the company president, CEO, VP, director, manager, and administrator, with the exception of the dedicated owners set of questions. The sample includes 612 small businesses with annual revenues up to $10 million. The survey was conducted in the last quarter of [2]

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Overall, there are signs of modest growth and a glimmer of optimism for 2012 among small business executives on Long Island. Business conditions are seen as better on Long Island than in the nation as a whole and there is far greater confidence in local business leaders than in national or local politicians. Small business owners believe that the benefits of business ownership continue to be strong despite difficult times for national and local economies. Most Long Island small businesses rate their current financial health as at least good, however access to credit remains a problem. Most companies expect to retain or expand their workforce and increase or maintain sales and prices in 2012, an improvement over The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well on Long Island; most small business owners are very positive about owning a small business and would encourage a family member to own one. I. Owners Small business owners were very positive about the benefits of business ownership despite the current difficult financial climate. Overall, two thirds of all owners would encourage their children or young family members to start a small business and almost all (89%) are satisfied with the decision to own one. Personal autonomy is the major benefit of owning a small business according to owners. A majority (58%) said that being one s own boss was the best personal benefit of being an owner and the most commonly mentioned professional benefit was being able to make one s own business decisions (39%). The personal downsides include long hours (39%), isolation (18%), and missing family events (15%). The most common professional downside is financial stress (47%), followed by having to take on all or most of the risk associated with the business (23%). Most owners say that owning a business has had a positive (58%) or no effect on their marriage (22%). Not all small business owners are bullish about the long term future, however. A quarter of owners (25%) said they would downsize in the next five years and 22% reported that their business was likely to close in the same time period. Problems with the economy, sales, new business and clients, and lack of consumer confidence were the most common reasons given for downsizing or closing a business. Approximately a quarter of small business owners said that it is somewhat or very likely that they will move their business off Long Island in the next five years. When asked, half of the respondents cited costs of doing business and living on Long Island. Relatively few owners (6%) mentioned government or taxes as the reason they would move their business off Long Island. [3]

4 II. Economic & Business Conditions Access to credit remains a significant problem for Long Island s small businesses. Forty five percent of small businesses needed to borrow money in 2011 and more than half (55%) found it somewhat or very difficult to borrow money, with 22% saying they missed out on a business opportunity in 2011 because they could not secure financing. Small business executives are not especially confident that political leaders can make much progress in improving business conditions in the next 12 months. They have most confidence in local business leaders. Among the entire sample of respondents, small business executives rate current economic conditions as better on Long Island than in the country as a whole. In looking forward, more than a third of small business executives said they were very or somewhat optimistic about the local and the national economy in the next 12 months. More than half (52%) of small business executives rate the current financial status of their business positively. Overall, 18% of all small businesses had expanded in 2011 and expected to expand in Over two thirds (69%) of business executives expected their sales to be the same or increase in 2011; an even greater percentage (79%) expected sales to stay the same or increase in There are signs of modest job growth in small businesses in A slightly greater number of businesses plan to expand their number of employees (16%) than decrease their employees (7%) in This is a clear improvement over 2011 when 11% increased the number of their employees and 15% decreased. Just under a third of small businesses had made capital expenditures in 2011 to improve or purchase equipment, buildings, or land. III. Gender Differences Among business owners, male and female owners differ in their perceived personal benefits of owning a business. Female business owners were far more likely than men to say that flexible working hours was the best thing personally about owning a business whereas men mentioned being their own boss. Women owners were more likely than male owners to say that owning a business had a positive effect on their marriage and family life. On average, women owners tend to work fewer hours than men per week; this gender difference in hours per week is especially pronounced among owners of businesses with revenues under $500,000. [4]

5 Women comprise just under a quarter (24%) of small business owners. Male and female business owners are equally encouraging of a family member starting their own business and similarly satisfied with the decision to own a business. Male and female owners also shared similar views on many aspects of running a business, including future expansion, and plans to scale back or close the business. IV. Other Highlights In the last five years, half of small businesses had changed the way they communicate with clients and customers. 32% of all businesses used new social media such as Twitter, Facebook or blogs to communicate. Of businesses that use social media, most (59%) find it has helped to increase their sales volume. About one third (29%) of businesses were planning to change strategy in 2012, changes included an expansion of services, financial changes and changes in advertising and marketing. [5]

6 BETHPAGE SMALL BUSINESS SURVEY REPORT I. OWNERS One of the novel and important features of the current study was a dedicated set of questions for business owners who completed the survey. A. Working Conditions Owners made up 58% of all business executives who participated in the survey. Owners spend a considerable amount of time on their business: 20% worked more than 60 hours per week, just under 40% worked between hours a week, and 36% worked 40 hours or less per week. Small business owners take few vacation days. Overall 46% of small business owners take a week or less of vacation each year. About how many hours a week do you spend working on your business? Hours worked per week 1 to 30 hours 23% 31 to 40 hours 13% 41 to 50 hours 19% 51 to 60 hours 20% More than 60 hours 20% Don t Know/Refused 5% B. Future Business Location: Long Island Vs. Off Long Island Approximately a quarter (22%) of small business owners say it is somewhat or very likely that they will move their business off Long Island in the next five years. When asked why, about 50% of owners mentioned costs of doing business and living on Long Island as the most common reasons, followed by the economy (24%). Only 6% of business owners mentioned government and taxes as the reason for why they are likely to move. How likely is it that you will move your business off Long Island in the next five years? 22% 78% Very/Somewhat Likely Not Very/Not At All Likely [6]

7 C. Family Involvement Overall, approximately two thirds of all owners would encourage their children or young family members to start a small business, and over a quarter would discourage them. Owners are almost all (89%) satisfied with the decision to own a business, and over a half (55%) are very satisfied. A third of (33%) of business owners have other members of their family working in their business. D. Expansion Vs. Downsizing Owners were split in terms of planned expansion in the next five years. About half (51%) thought it was likely they would expand and 45% thought it was unlikely. A quarter (25%) of small businesses thought they would downsize in the next five years. The economy (37%) and personal factors (30%) were the most common reasons given for downsizing for small businesses on Long Island. A similar number of owners reported that their business was likely to close over the next five years: 22% of business owners thought that was likely to happen. The costs and economy were the most common reasons given for closing the business. E. Personal Aspects of Business Ownership The most positive personal aspect of owning a business includes being one s own boss (58%), followed by flexible working hours (29%). The worst personal aspect is long hours (39%), isolation (18%), or missing family events (15%). Making one s own business decisions is mentioned as the best professional aspect of owning a business (39%) followed by being able to challenge oneself (27%) and reap financial rewards (18%). The worst professional aspect of owning a business is the financial stress (47%), followed by having to take on all or most of the risk associated with a business (23%). Most owners say that owning a business has had a positive (58%) or no effect on their marriage or family life (22%). Seventeen percent report business ownership as having a negative effect on their marriage or family life. II. ECONOMIC & BUSINESS CONDITIONS A. Local Vs. National Economy The local Long Island economy is viewed more positively than the national economy by small business executives. Most small business executives rate current business conditions as fair or [7]

8 poor in the nation and on Long Island, but a slightly greater number rate the Long Island economy as fairly or very good (19% vs. 9% for the national economy). How would you rate the condition of (the national/long Island) economy these days? Local Economy 19% 40% 38% National Economy 9% 44% 45% Very/Fairly Good Fairly Bad Very Bad In looking forward, the majority of small business executives are more pessimistic than optimistic about local and national business conditions in the coming twelve months, but there is a sizeable minority who are optimistic about both the local and national economy. Overall, more than a third of small business executives said they were very or somewhat optimistic about the local and the national economy (37%) in the next 12 months. Thinking about the next 12 months, how optimistic or pessimistic are you about business conditions (in the nation as a whole/on Long Island)? Long Island 37% 62% Nation 37% 61% Very/Somewhat Optimistic Very/Somewhat Pessimistic [8]

9 Seventeen percent of small business executives think the next six months would be a good time for small businesses on Long Island to expand substantially. B. Small Business Credit Access to credit remains a problem for many small Long Island businesses. Less than a half (46%) of small businesses has a line of credit and 25% of small businesses have difficulty gaining sufficient financing. When asked if they were able to borrow sufficient funds to meet their credit needs in 2011, 18% of small businesses said no. About 22% had missed out on a business opportunity in 2011 because they could not secure financing. Forty five percent of small businesses had needed to borrow money in 2011 and more than half of small businesses (55%) found it somewhat or very difficult. C. Local Vs. National Leadership Cautious optimism about the Long Island economy may stem in part from considerable confidence in local business leaders. Business executives are not especially confident that political leaders can make much progress in improving business conditions in the next 12 months; they have greater confidence in local business leaders. There was least confidence in government officials in Washington to improve the national economy (21%), followed by somewhat greater confidence in local government officials (33%), to improve the Long Island economy. Small business executives expressed the greatest confidence in local business leaders to improve business conditions on Long Island, although they were still split between those who were confident of such change (49%), and those who were not (48%). How much confidence do you have that (government officials in Washington/local government/local business leaders) will make progress in the next 12 months in improving business conditions in the Nation as a whole on Long Island? Federal Government 21% 79% Local Government 33% 65% Local Business Leaders 49% 48% A lot/some Confidence Not At All/Not Much Confidence [9]

10 D. Financial Health of Their Business When asked to rate the current financial status of their business, more than half of executives (52%) rated their financial status as excellent, very good, or good, and less than half (46%), rated it as not very good, fair or poor. Few business executives were outright pessimistic about the short term financial status of their company. Most (two thirds) believed their business would be in the same shape in six months as it is now, and approximately 20% think they will be in better shape, and relatively few (10%) think it will be in worse shape. Most executives do not expect their business to expand in the coming year, but there is a sizable minority who do. Over a quarter (27%) of all businesses had expanded in A similar percent of businesses (29%) said they planned to expand in Overall, about 18% of all small businesses had expanded in 2011 and expected to expand in Most business executives (69%) estimated that their sales would be the same or increase in 2011 when compared to Only 27% expected their sales to decline in Do you expect sales of your goods/ services this year (2011) to be higher than in 2010, lower, or about the same? In 2012, do you expect sales of your goods/services to be higher than in 2011, lower, or about the same? % 40% 27% % 50% 18% Higher About the Same Lower There are signs of modest job growth in small businesses: 16% expect to increase and 7% plan to decrease their number of employees in This is an improvement over 2011 in which 11% increased and 15% decreased their workforce. That leaves 73% of all small businesses that expect their workforce to stay the same size in Among businesses that plan to increase their number of employees, 80% plan to hire between 1 and 5 employees on average. Among the minority of companies who expected their workforce to shrink in 2012, the major reason was declining sales or revenues. [10]

11 There are signs that small Long Island businesses have and will continue to invest in their companies by making capital improvements. Just under a third (32%) of businesses had made capital expenditures in 2011 to improve or purchase equipment, buildings, or land. E. Business with Credit Unions Only 6% of small businesses have used a credit union as a source of finance for their business, and another 19% had considered doing so. The number who said they would likely borrow money from a credit union increased substantially to 43% if Congress were to raise the amount that credit unions can lend to small businesses. III. GENDER DIFFERENCES AMONG OWNERS The survey revealed some intriguing and unexpected differences between male and female business owners, especially as it relates to the size of their small business. Women comprise about a quarter of owners of businesses with revenues less than $500,000 and 23% of owners of businesses with revenues between $500,000 and $10 million. A. Personal and Professional Aspects of Business Ownership There are differences between male and female owners in what they regard as the major benefit of business ownership. Women are far more likely to cite flexible working hours, especially if they own a business with revenues under $500,000, whereas men are more likely to mention being one s own boss. Among business owners, men take a greater number of vacation days than do women, although women work fewer hours per week on average. Now I would like you to think of the PERSONAL aspects of owning your business, what is the BEST thing about owning your own business? By Gender Male Owners Female Owners Flexible Working Hours 21% 54% Own Boss 64% 37% Most owners say that owning a business has had a positive (58%) or no effect on their marriage or family life (22%). But this finding masks a difference between male and female owners. Overall, female owners are more positive (65%) than men (55%) about the effects of ownership on their marriage and family life. This gender difference is most pronounced, however, among owners of businesses with higher revenues of between $500,000 and $10 million. Women who [11]

12 own such businesses are far more positive (71%) than men (41%) about the effects of ownership on their marriage and family life. Owning a business with lower revenues, under $500,000, has a beneficial effect for both men and women although it is slightly greater for women (65% of women are positive compared to 57% of men). Overall, would you say that owning a business has had a positive, negative, or no effect on your marriage or family life? Businesses under $500,000 Male Owners Female Owners Positive effect 57% 65% Negative effect 15% 18% Businesses Between $500,000 and $10 million Positive effect 41% 71% Negative effect 29% 16% Both men and women owners are equally likely to encourage a family member to start a business; they are also equally satisfied with their decision to own a business. Men and women owners also shared similar views on key aspects of running a business, such as whether to expand or dissolve the business, and in their overall levels of optimism about the future of their business. However when asked to rate the current financial status of their business, more than half of male executives (57%) rated their financial status as excellent, very good, or good compared to only 24% of female owners. IV. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS A. Client and Customer Communication Half of small businesses had changed the way they communicate with clients and customers in the last five years. Approximately a third of all businesses used new social media such as Twitter, Facebook or blogs to communicate. When broken down by business sector, half of all retailers used social media compared to only 19% of businesses in the transportation, construction and manufacturing sectors. Of businesses that use social media, most (59%) find it has helped to increase their sales volume. [12]

13 Do you use any social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook or Blogs to communicate with your clients and customers? Retail 50% 50% Services 32% 69% Trans./Manuf./Constr. 19% 81% Yes No B. New Ideas Business executives turn to a variety of sources for new ideas on how to grow their business and provide leadership, including news sources and magazines (15%), other business leaders and associations (15%), networking groups or associations (11%), or other sources (32%). Among all business executives, 25% say they do not turn to anyone else for new ideas. Twentynine percent of businesses were planning to change strategy in 2012: changes included an expansion of services (37%), financial changes (21%), and changes in advertising and marketing (18%). [13]

14 APPENDIX Methodology The Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research conducted this survey by telephone between October 3 and November 14, A targeted sample from the Dun & Bradstreet Business Database (D&B Business Database) was used to obtain phone numbers of small businesses on Long Island with sales volumes of $10 million or less. The sample includes 205 small businesses with annual revenues up to $500,000 and 407 medium sized small businesses with revenues between $500,000 and $10 million. As businesses with revenues between and $500,000 and $10 million make up only a small component of the Long Island business community, this segment was oversampled to allow for a more accurate measurement of this group than an ordinary sample alone. Findings from both the small and medium sized businesses were then combined and weighted to accurately depict the Long Island small business community as a whole. In addition, in total, 6026 numbers were attempted [2030 smaller businesses ($500,000 or less), and 3996 larger businesses (more than $500,000)]. 527 numbers were not eligible since they were no longer in business or numbers were not business numbers and 1012 numbers were identified as non working numbers. This left us with 4487 available numbers. Selected small businesses were screened for a person of the appropriate title (e.g. owner, CEO, president, etc.). Up to 9 contact attempts at various times of the day and week were made at each small business phone number. In order to assure a representative sample, all contacts at small businesses that were not initially willing to participate in the survey were contacted again, and an attempt was made to persuade them to participate. Interviews were completed with 612 eligible small business respondents (205 smaller businesses and 407 larger businesses). Weights were created for this sample in order for the distribution of businesses in the sample to represent the actual composition of small businesses on Long Island. Population estimates of number of employees, sales volume, and type of industry were obtained from Marketing Systems Group. Within each sub sample of smaller and larger businesses, observations were weighted on the basis of these three factors. Weighting was done using an iterative process that has been developed to estimate joint weights for any number of demographic variables for which population percentages are known only individually, not jointly. Additionally, all [14]

15 observations in the full sample were weighted by sub sample type (i.e. smaller and larger businesses) in order to correct for the over sampling. 1 Half of all medium size businesses brought in revenues of less than a million dollars a year, and half brought in more. Businesses with revenues in excess of a million dollars were split almost evenly across the retail, service and financial, and the construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors. Service and financial companies dominated businesses with revenues between $500,000 and a million dollars a year; there were somewhat fewer businesses in the retail and construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors with revenues in this range. Each sector is classified based on Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. Business owners who responded to the survey were asked an additional set of questions. Owners made up 58% of all business executives who participated in the survey, 76% of which were male 24% of which were female. 1 The unweighted sample of businesses is very similar to the profile of all small businesses on Long Island. The sample contained a slightly greater number of medium sized retail and slightly fewer medium sized service businesses; for example, medium size retail businesses make up 38% in the sample and 31% in the population. The sample also contained a slightly larger number of medium sized businesses with revenues under $1 million and small businesses earning between $200,000 and $500,000. These slight imbalances were corrected through the use of weights. [15]

16 Type of Industry % of Respondents Retail 18.9% Retail 15% Wholesale 3.9% Services/Finance 61% Services 56.3% Finance 4.6% Communications.1% Transportation/Construction/Manufacturing 20.2% Construction 11.4% Manufacturing 5.3% Transportation 2.0% Agriculture 1.5% Number of Employees % % % More than % Median 11 Sales Volume Less than $100, % $100,000 to less than $200, % $200,000 to less than $500, % $500k to less than $1 Million 7.5% $1 Million or more 7.2% Median $800,000 Years of Operation Before % % % % 2001 Present 34.1% Owners Total Owners in the sample 58% Males Owners 76% Females Owners 24% [16]

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