CAMPBELL, CA and BOZEMAN, MT, Jan 26, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Schedulicity ( http://schedulicity.com ), the leader in online appointment scheduling for small, appointment-dependent businesses, today announced the results of its business and economic outlook study for 2012. The study reveals the priorities, attitudes and perceptions of small businesses in regards to the economy, hiring expectations, marketing and 2012 business performance.
“While 2011 was clearly still a rebuilding year for many small businesses, 2012 is poised to be a time of development,” said Jerry Nettuno, CEO of Schedulicity. “Prosperity is right around the corner. Small businesses owners are signaling to us — both anecdotally and through formal communications — that the economic recovery is progressing.”
Schedulicity-using SMB owners were asked to participate in the online survey, from which nearly 1,200 responses were received. Here are the results:
1. SMBs Are Overwhelmingly Optimistic About 2012 Business Performance Among survey respondents, a surprising 91 percent indicated they expect their business to perform better than it performed in 2011, while only two percent predict negative business results. More than 47 percent expect much better results and 44 percent rated their expectations as somewhat better than last year. For comparative purposes, participants were asked to assess their 2011 business results. An impressive 51 percent rated last year’s business performance as better, or much better than expected; 34 percent reported earnings were on point with expectations; and a minimal 12 percent reported a worse-than-expected business performance in 2011.
2. Small Business Owners Believe the Economy has Turned a Corner
When asked to rate the outlook on the economy in 2012, a hopeful 66 percent of business owners expect a better economic environment. Conversely, only eight percent believe the economy will be worse in the New Year, while 26 percent expect the economy to remain unchanged in 2012.
3. Businesses Focused on Top- and Bottom-Line, not Cutting Costs
Participants were asked to rank a list of potential business goals on a scale of one to five, with one being least important to their overall corporate goal attainment. Overwhelmingly, respondents ranked growing revenues and increasing profits as the highest priorities, while cutting expenses was a distant fifth in importance. Given participants’ bullish economic outlook, service-based businesses clearly favor customer and revenue growth strategies versus cutting headcount or other expenses to meet their 2012 financial goals.
4. More than Half of SMBs Predict Revenue Growth When asked to share expected revenue growth for 2012, 39 percent of participants estimated a 10 to 25 percent increase, while 26 percent expect an astounding 25 to 50 percent increase.
5. Hiring As the job market continues to be a hot topic in 2012, survey results point to an expected uptick in hiring. More than 40 percent of responding business owners say they will hire 2.5 new employees this year, on average. For many participants, this means bolstering staffing numbers by almost 70 percent.
6. The Customer (and Prospective Customer) is King in 2012 When presented with a list of possible business tactics for achieving their 2012 corporate goals, expanding their customer base came in first with 45 percent of business owners, making it their most important growth objective. Filling open appointments in their schedules and improving customer satisfaction were rated the second and third most important tactics, respectively.
7. Online Marketing Features are Critical to Schedulicity Users
Small business owners understand the importance of implementing cost-effective marketing tools to help achieve their business goals in 2012. Social media, SEO and email marketing were all ranked equally important, notably over tools like direct mail, coupons/daily deals and traditional print advertising. Fifty-five percent of respondents cited Schedulicity’s online marketing tools as one of their top three priorities for achieving their marketing goals this year.
By gauging the importance of Schedulicity’s offered features and capabilities, the survey offers insight into what online tools SMBs consider critical to their business. A stunning 95 percent of SMBs ranked Schedulicity’s mobile capabilities as critically important to the success of their business, while email marketing and the service’s Facebook widget came in closely behind with 94 percent ranking.
By Tim Spagnola
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