Third Quarter 2014 Research on Business Owners

Business owners' economic optimism has reached its highest point in three years, according to new research from The Principal Knowledge Center. This rosier outlook follows a strong year for America's small to mid-sized businesses. Business owners are also increasingly confident in their outlook for the overall health of their businesses.

Key findings

Small- to medium-sized business owners’ outlook on the economy and business financials

  • Four in ten business owners are optimistic about the economic outlook for 2015, a significant increase from 31 percent the previous year. Almost four in ten business owners (39%) say their sentiment regarding the economic outlook for 2015 is cautious.
  • Just over half (54%) of the business owners say their business financials have improved compared to last year at this time. Fifty-four percent believe their business financials will improve in the next twelve months.
  • Almost nine of ten (88%) business owners rate the financial health of their business as either stable or growing.

Business owners’ plans for spending

  • Seven in ten (71%) business owners have surplus capital. When looking at only the business owners who have surplus capital, almost three-quarters (73%) of them aren’t spending any of it now.
  • Almost three in ten (29%) of business owners have no business surplus capital, a significant decline from 38% in 2013.
  • Four in ten (41%) business owners plan to add to staff (up from 35% last year) while 8% percent plan to reduce staff.
  • One in five (22%) plan to add employee benefits, a significant increase from 16% in 2013.

Current business challenges

  • Over half of the business owners say they are challenged with growing the business (57%), attracting new customers (56%) and maintaining customer satisfaction (51%).
  • Over four in ten are challenged with maintaining a competitive edge over competitors (46%) and retaining talented employees (43%).
Third quarter 2014 research on business owners

Want to learn more about the results from the Third Quarter 2014 Well-Being Index report?