Small-business owners (SBOs) in the US are feeling pretty positive, as 72% polled in January 2015 by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) said they were somewhat or very confident in the financial future of their companies. They intended to turn to advertising and marketing (51%), digital and e-commerce expansion (34%) and strategic alliances (31%) the most to fuel growth over the coming year.
SBOs were most likely to see an increase in gross sales and revenues last year; 45% reported these were up, vs. 34% who saw a decline. Results should be even more positive this year, with 60% of respondents expecting gross sales and revenues to increase over the next 12 months, compared with just 15% who expected a decrease.
December 2014 polling by The Alternative Board found even brighter expectations. Among SBOs worldwide, 64% said their sales revenues had increased somewhat or sharply year over year, and a whopping 82% expected them to rise over the coming year.
Predictions for 2015 profits were also exciting in the NSBA study. While 41% of respondents saw net profits grow last year, this was just slightly above the 37% who saw a drop. The situation should change this year, as 54% of SBOs expected net profits to increase over the next 12 months, vs. just 18% who foresaw a decline.
Despite SBOs’ cheery outlook, one cloud looms over the industry: cybersecurity, a concern for more than nine in 10 respondents. This worry comes with good reason, too, as half of SBOs said their companies had experienced a cyberattack. Even worse, results indicated they were getting more frequent, with 61% who had experienced an attack saying it had been within the past 12 months.
As if the business threat caused by cyberattacks isn’t bad enough, they’re not cheap either. According to NSBA, cyberattacks cost small businesses an average $20,752 per attack last year—nearly 140% more than the $8,699 per-attack average the year prior. As hacking and data breaches become more sophisticated, it’s likely that battling attackers will only get more expensive.