SmallBiz Vote

Best candidate for business? Entrepreneurs divided

Small business owners are split

With regard to who is the better candidate for small businesses, President Barack Obama has only a slight edge over Governor Mitt Romney, according to a survey of small business owners commissioned by Office Depot. The Office Depot Small Business Index, conducted in April and released today, revealed that 53 percent of small business owners see the current President as the top small business advocate, while 47 percent chose the former Massachusetts Governor.

The Internet-based national survey, which interviewed 1,002 owners of businesses with between 1 and 99 employees, also asked respondents how they feel about the state of their business. Compared to a year ago, more small business owners say they are "much more or slightly more optimistic." There has been a drop in optimism, however, from January 2012. Survey interviews are conducted monthly.

The survey also asked about measures of success. Most respondents define success as "being profitable" (73 percent); "having a work-life balance" (58 percent); and "working on something in which they believe" (56 percent).

Although only eight percent of small business owners equated being rich with success, their heroes indicate otherwise: The entrepreneurs those surveyed admire most are Bill Gates (32 percent), the late Steve Jobs (28 percent), and Oprah Winfrey (22 percent).

Just over half of the small businesses polled considered themselves to be "extremely or very successful." About 40 percent said they were "on the fence" of success, and very few reported themselves to be "not very or not at all successful."

Other results of the current Office Depot Small Business Index include:

  • "Making more money/increasing profits," "saving money/keeping costs down," and "sales" are the three biggest business issues on the minds of small business owners.
  • "Organizing the office" and "being more efficient/time management" are the primary business tasks respondents feel they can do better, followed by "making more money" and "sales/acquiring new business."
  • "Expanding the business," "being more efficient/organized," and "advertising/marketing" are the three main changes for which small businesses are planning.
  • "Staffing" and "business travel" remain the areas where at least 20 percent of small businesses are making the biggest cuts. More than 1 in 10 are also reducing spending on "technology" and "marketing."
  • While nearly one-third of the small businesses report that they have not increased their spending since this time last year, those who have, indicate it was for "advertising/marketing" and "ink/toner" (about 2 in 10), followed at lower levels by "general office supplies," "insurance," and "computer/IT support."
  • Looking ahead at the rest of the year, nearly 40 percent of owners would like to increase spending in "advertising/marketing" followed at much lower levels by "travel", "payroll/salaries" and "computer/IT support."

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