RIVERWOODS, Ill. — Economic confidence among small-business owners has grown for the second consecutive month in July, despite growing concerns about being able to pay bills, according to the latest Discover Small Business Watch. The index rose to 82.1, up from 80.9 in June.
Thirty percent of survey respondents believe the overall economy is improving, up from 26% in June. Those who believe it is getting worse fell to 50%, down from 57% in June — the lowest reading since May 2007. The remaining 20% aren’t sure or think it’s staying about the same.
Fifty-eight percent of small-business owners rate the economy as poor, while 35% rate it fair and 7% say it’s excellent or good. Twenty-nine percent of small-business owners see economic conditions for their businesses improving, up from 25% in June, while 46% see conditions getting worse and 19% say conditions are the same. Forty-nine percent of small-business owners say they plan to cut spending on business development in the next six months, down from 51% in June. Twenty-three percent plan to increase spending, 23% are planning no changes and 5% aren’t sure.
At the same time, cash-flow concerns in July hit the highest level in the Watch’s three-year existence. More than half of small-business owners (53%) say that in the past 90 days, they’ve encountered temporary cash-flow issues that caused them to hold off on paying some bills. This is up from 42% in June.
Sixty-five percent of the small-business owners surveyed haven’t borrowed money to pay their business expenses, but the number of those who have was 33% in July, up from 19% in October 2008. Current economic conditions have forced 69% of owners to reduce the amount of money they take home from their small businesses, up from 55% in October 2008, the survey indicates.
Rasmussen Reports LLC, an independent research firm, compiles The Discover Small Business Watch each month based on telephone interviews and survey responses from approximately 750 small-business owners.