US SMBs Are Distinctly Optimistic Among Their Global Peers

-US SMBs are more optimistic than their global counterparts, a third (33%) are ‘very confident’ in their business currently

-Technology adoption is the key to productivity and growth for US SMBs in 2023, over half plan to accelerate their tech investment, and are open to emerging technologies such as AI

Sage’s annual survey of almost 12,0000 business leaders globally – ‘Small Business, Big Opportunity’ – finds that despite a challenging 2022, where rising costs and pressures on cash flow impacted profitability, American SMBs are distinctly confident among their global peers.

Out of the 2,147 US SMBs surveyed, a third (33%) are ‘very confident’ in their business right now (above the global average of 26%), with 38% of US business leaders predicting that they will feel ‘very confident’ about the success of their business at the end of 2023.

A third (30%) of those surveyed expect their costs to decrease over the course of the year, while 63% expect their revenue to stay the same or increase next year.

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Adoption of technology is critical to business confidence

This confidence is strongly linked to higher levels of tech investment, with 39% of US SMBs citing successful tech adoption as a primary reason for their optimism (compared to 32% globally). Furthermore, over half (63%) of those surveyed say that they are planning on accelerating their tech investment further (compared to 53% globally).

Looking to the next three years, US business leaders envisage deploying emerging technologies such as 5G internet (41%), AI (31%) and cryptocurrency (23%).

However, although US SMBs anticipate increasing their technology investment by a fifth (21%) over the next twelve months, those surveyed cite lack of budget and issues with successfully integrating new technologies as the main barriers.

Driving resilience through increased productivity

In 2022, inflation presented a significant barrier for many US SMBs, almost a quarter (23%) saw their costs increase by 10% – 24%. However, those surveyed report working more efficiently to overcome challenges, over three quarters say they are satisfied with current productivity levels, and a third report that this helped them overcome barriers in 2022.

Challenges remain regarding hiring, however. Access to talent remains a critical concern, with half (52%) of small businesses in the US stating that hiring the employees they need is at least “quite a big problem”, compared to the global average of 45%.

“SMBs are the drivers of innovation, especially in these times of economic uncertainty,” said Aziz Benmalek, President, Sage North America.

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“The SMB ecosystem is full of new opportunities which largely stem from implementing innovative tech and seeking out new opportunities to push these businesses into their next phase of success. Their resiliency is the loudest callout, revealing that even when the global economy is at odds, and hiring challenges remain, a sense of optimism and a commitment to embrace digital transformation can aid in surviving the year ahead.”

“We will continue to use our voice to highlight the barriers facing SMBs and call on governments to adopt a pro-tech, pro-enterprise approach so SMBs have the resources to compete on a global scale,” Benmalek continued.

“We see emerging tech as a pathway to further growth, but the challenge lies in finding the resources and talent to bring these adoptions to fruition,” said Iris Hosea and Patty Flores, Co-Founders and President of Festively. “That’s why access to emerging tech and programs like those provided by the Small Business Administration are invaluable – while we recognize the importance of accounting and profit margins, we don’t want to spend the bulk of our time on those items. Cloud-based tech products and a strong commitment from American legislature to support SMBs, can help alleviate some of the accounting and business challenges we’re facing in 2023.”

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