1) We Feel Good!

The newest Spark Business Barometer from Capital One shows small business owners feel good about financial conditions and their local and national economies. As a result they plan to increase investments in business processes, technology, employee compensation and other areas.

This isn’t a wishy-washy report in any sense. Half the business owners say their current business conditions are either “excellent” or “good”, 63 percent are optimistic about their local economies and 40 percent have already experienced increased sales in the last six months.

The Spark Business Barometer also reports:

As the economy improves, what do business owner plan to do with their money?

57 percent of business owners will increase investment in improving business processes and technology
55 percent will set aside funds for unexpected emergencies
55 percent will save for retirement
46 percent plan to give their staff raises
35 percent plan to put cash aside for capital investments

Women and Millennial-owned businesses continue to drive optimism.

73 percent of Millennial and 56 percent of women-led businesses say current business conditions are good, compared to 46 percent of males
42 percent of women say “much better” or “somewhat better” than last year, compared to 31 percent of males.
57 percent of Millennials say their businesses are doing better than last year—more than any other generation

How do they measure success? The most popular measures are:

Customer satisfaction (94 percent)
Revenues (77 percent)
Profits (76 percent)
Work/Life Balance

While 69 percent of women define success by “achieving work/life balance”, only 58 percent of men think that way. To achieve the “mythical” balance:

43 percent of business owners take vacations
33 percent set specific times for arriving and departing the office
27 percent limit the amount of work they bring home

Ecommerce: What are you waiting for?

We all know ecommerce is on the raise, but the Barometer indicates small businesses have yet to embrace this sales channel. A mere 25 percent of small business owners report having websites with e-commerce functionality. And of those with ecommerce functionality, 58 percent earn less than 10 percent of their sales from online purchases.