Staples, Inc. tries to keep its finger on the pulse of small business by sponsoring surveys. A recent study regarding small business finances found that less than half of small business owners are able to define basic accounting principles. Yet, 94 percent are confident about their abilities to manage their finances.
For some, this points to business owners needing financial training; for others, this is no surprise. Entrepreneurs and small business owners start their own businesses to do things their own way. Why should they concern themselves with basic accounting principles when, "Buy low and sell high" is one of the only mantras they need.
Take any business owner aside and ask them how much they did in sales that day or week, and most will be able to guess within a very safe margin. Since they are often acting as the entire management team, they tend to know a little about many areas and a lot about one. They generally have backgrounds in: marketing, technical, engineering, production or finance. Most are not previously experienced at high levels of all of these business disciplines.
In taking a look at Staples interview questions/results, it seems clear that the survey skims the surface of a SMB owner's actual responsibilities when it comes to the financial condition of their business.
In fact, Citibank, Intuit and American Express are all guilty of the same superficial surveys intended to demonstrate the needs that small business owners have for their own products and services. Since they are giant already, the strategy is that we will continue to view them as experts and allies who actively look for small business solutions. Well, they do. Yet, not from the altruistic motive that is projected.
Helping small businesses has been bandied about for years by the government. It took a while, but once large corporations realized that the majority of businesses in the country are "non-employment businesses" consisting of 1-2 people and "employment businesses" that have less than 10 employees, they have all been responding with small business promotions, practices and surveys.
Well, for what it is worth, here are the results of Staples recent survey.
Staples Survey - Key Findings:
- Some SMB owners have saved emergency cash at some point in strange places including a desk drawer (19 percent) or in the car (7 percent).
- About one third of respondents have bounced a check within the past year.
- Twenty-nine percent say they have postponed paying vendors or suppliers.
- A large majority (45 percent) of respondents do not use software to track cash flow.
- One third of small business owners have postponed hiring in the past year.
- About one fourth (24 percent) of small business owners expect a lot of growth in the next two years.
Who is benefiting from this survey? Do you see yourself in these stats?
Well, Staples has gone one more for the small business owner and is promoting their new Business Hub in an effort to help small businesses cope with financial and other challenges. We'll be heading there next, so check it out and let us know how you feel about corporate giants' and small businesses.