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Businesses Optimistic About the Economy, Says American Express
25 Sep
Nearly ninety percent of mid-size business owners are planning to add to their staff over the next year, according to a recent survey from American Express. This reflects a generally optimistic viewpoint of the United States economy on the part of middle market businesses, with 75% of survey respondents saying that they expect positive economic influences on their prospects in the coming year.

The American Express Survey of Mid-Sized Companies surveyed 500 finance executives from companies whose annual revenues fell between $10 million and $1 billion. Interviews were conducted online in late June and early July 2015. Respondents were asked about their feelings on the economy, their plans for the next twelve months, and their strategies for growth.

Hiring picks up

Over half of companies plan to hire full-time staff, with 52% planning to hire only full-timers, and 18% planning to hire both full-time and part-time employees. Nineteen percent plan to hire part-timers only. And 60% of respondents said they already have more folks on staff now than they did a year ago.

The increase in staff is mostly due to increased business volume. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said that was their main reason for hiring. Thirty-six percent said they’d been trying to find the right people for open positions for some time, and had finally done so. Another 30% said they hire more people because they need seasonal help, or are restructuring their company, and 34% were starting a new business.

Expanding business costs money

Almost everyone—99%—said they were planning to grow their business over the next year, and 31% said it was the company’s number-one priority in the next year. But 91% said that they expect cash flow to be a concern as they expand their businesses. The biggest worry is the cost of investing in infrastructure, with 24% naming that as their top concern about growth. However, 72% said that their company has already secured at least some of the needed capital to support growth.

Strategies for growing their businesses include reaching new customers (31%), investing in infrastructure, such as new technology and operations (27%), keeping their current customers and nurturing those relationships (15%), securing more capital and increasing cash flow (14%), and luring high-quality talent to work on their team (12%).

Travel is a good investment

Although company travel can be pricey, finance managers felt it was nearly always worth the expense. Ninety-seven percent of survey respondents said investing in travel has helped their company secure new clients.

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