If you own a small business in Florida, chances are your sales are up, you might add employees in the next six months and you expect the economy to continue to improve in the next year.
That’s according to a survey of small business owners released Wednesday by the Florida Chamber Small Business Council. The survey was conducted May 4-22 via email and social media.
Sixty-two percent of respondents reported higher sales in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year, with only 14 percent reporting lower sales.
In addition, 57 percent of business owners said their business is better off than it was six months ago.
In the expansion and job-creation categories, 45 percent of respondents said they plan to hire personnel over the next six months; only 4 percent expect to lay off employees in the same period. Increasing investment in plants and equipment is planned by 39 percent of those responding.
Plant expansion or equipment purchase in the next six months is expected by 21 percent of respondents, 13 percent plan to invest within the year and 5 percent said their expansion plans are at least 12 months away. Twenty-six percent said they have no plans to expand infrastructure or purchase equipment.
A slight improvement in the economy in the next 12 months is anticipated by 60 of respondents and 9 percent are looking forward to a significant improvement.
Asked how they think sales are likely to change in the next three months, 55 percent expect an increase, 34 percent said “unchanged” and 7 percent expect to see sales decline. Projecting sales over the next 12 months, 76 percent said they expect an increase, 16 percent expect flat sales and only 8 percent anticipate sales will decrease.
Another upward trend was in the category of doing business internationally. Twenty percent of the respondents said they sell products or services on the global market, an increase of 5 percent compared to a survey last year.
On the downside, 24 percent said economic uncertainty is the top issue facing small businesses, followed by workforce quality at 15 percent and concern over government regulations (12 percent).
Access to capital was termed the top issue by 10 percent of respondents, putting it fourth down the list in the latest survey. In a similar survey conducted a year ago, access to capital was at the top of the list.
While 57 percent said they did not seek financing for their business in the past six months, 31 percent were successful in securing financing, while 12 percent were not.
Janice Donaldson, regional director at the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida, said the survey results reflect what she sees in the North Florida market.
“Sales are growing and we hear a lot of people say they are going to have to hire people soon, but a lot of them are still uncertain about the future economy,” she said.
One key indicator the center monitors that wasn’t on the survey is what type of management guidance small business owners are seeking. It’s also improving.
“In the past few years, we’ve gone from managing survival to managing growth,” Donaldson said.