Four out of 10 small-business owners are reporting positive business conditions, nearly doubling since 2010, according to a new survey by Citibank.
The survey, which polled 750 small businesses across the country, reports that one-third of businesses are doing better than a year ago, with 33 percent expecting their business to grow by 10 percent this year.
Knowing that adaptation is key, more than half of owners said they have reinvented their business in order to stay open and competitive, with 38 percent of owners describing the competitive climate as "extremely intense."
In order to stay relevant, 47 percent of business owners reported overhauling their products or services, 24 percent changed their infrastructure, 18 percent improved their sales and marketing strategies. Only 7 percent decided to reduce pricing and take a cut in profit, and three percent chose to relocate.
While not all businesses found it necessary to reinvent their services, nearly 90 percent kept updated on their field, 70 percent increased face time with customers and 52 percent increased their use of social media. Looking ahead, 65 percent of owners expect to increase their marketing, 56 percent will work harder to manage expenses and 50 percent will introduce new products. In order to make such changes and improvements, 75 percent of business owners are using revenue and profits for funding, while 62 percent are dipping into personal savings.
With the stress of the economy, more and more business owners are sacrificing more personal time and money to their business. The survey found that 63 percent found being accountable and responsible for the business and their employees a major challenge.
While business seems to be improving, it is not without sacrifice -- 78 percent of business owners said they took less profit in order to support their business, with 66 percent doing so in order to pay employees. Meanwhile, 70 percent reported working more hours, sacrificing family time. Over 50 percent said they have gone without a paycheck. However, their sacrifice is not the only one, as 80 percent of business owners reported that their employees demonstrated support in the company by making sacrifices of their own, including 38 percent working additional hours without pay and 18 percent voluntarily accepting delayed or missed paychecks. As a pay back, business owners rewarded employees with additional time off (78 percent), a bonus (74 percent) or a raise (70 percent).
Best of all, business owners reported that customers are staying loyal. Nearly 70 percent reported that customers recognized and appreciated their sacrifices while 87 percent said that they have been thanked by customers.