Small business optimism hiring on increase

July 6, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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The Small Business Association of Michigan’s latest survey, which reached 600 small business owners in June, finds entrepreneurs reporting higher sales and profits and increased hiring, compared to last fall.

Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said that over the past six months, they increased their number of employees, compared to only 11 percent who reported in November that they had increased hiring.

“Michigan’s economy grew in the first half of this year, and entrepreneurs responded by picking up the pace in filling jobs,” said Michael Rogers, vice president of communications for SBAM. “Many of our members have told us that they are also seeing the positive impact of the Michigan business tax reform and are investing the tax savings into growing their businesses.”

The survey found that 38 percent of small business owners experienced increased sales over the past six months.

“I’m part of the 38 percent,” said David Fant, a Kentwood business owner who is a member of the SBAM board of directors. “My sales are up significantly over last year — and last year they were up over the previous year,” said Fant who owns Market Mapping Plus LLC.

“I’m seeing significant growth. I’m talking to other small business owners who are expressing the same opinion.” he added.

“People have the image that Michigan is part of the Rust Belt and none of us are working, that it’s kind of a dying state. In reality, it’s not. We are a growth state.”

Fant said national figures he has seen indicate “Michigan has improved significantly in entrepreneurship, new business start-ups — all of those.”

Market Mapping Plus specializes in providing mailing lists for direct marketing by businesses and nonprofits, particularly colleges and universities.

Other findings of the SBAM survey include:

  • 29 percent said profits had increased.

  • 27 percent said they increased employee wages.

  • 44 percent of SBAM members surveyed said they expect sales to increase over the next six months and 39 percent said they expect profits to increase.

  • 26 percent plan to hire more employees and 24 percent plan to increase wages.

Fant doesn’t plan to add more employees or increase wages, but he is not the typical small business owner: Market Mapping Plus is a one-person operation, with Fant doing all the work since he founded his business 22 years ago.

Right now, he said, it is “boom time” for the colleges and universities he serves in Michigan and other states.

“In the recent past, when the economy did its downturn, they cut back on marketing and they found they got fewer students, so now they’re back in the marketing field because they need those students,” explained Fant.

SBAM was founded in 1969 and is headquartered in downtown Lansing, where it is able to monitor the legislative, regulatory, economic and legal factors that can present barriers to the success of small businesses. It is an affiliate of the National Small Business Association in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 150,000 small business owners nationwide.

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