How are women business owners feeling about their companies’ outlook for the next six months? The PNC Women Business Owners Survey polled women entrepreneurs at small and midsized businesses with sales ranging from $100,000 to $250 million. The mood they found might be described as “middle of the road.”
About half of women business owners expect their sales to rise, while a similar number expect them to stay the same. Some 47 percent believe their profits will stay the same, while 35 percent expect an increase. The outlook is driven by the fact that 54 percent feel optimistic about the U.S. economy in the next six months, and 43 percent feel pessimistic.
Maybe this is why 75 percent of women business owners surveyed plan to keep their staffing levels the same. Just 9 percent expect to hire; 5 percent will cut back on staff.
So where are women business owners putting their focus (and their money)? More than two-thirds (68 percent) say they will focus on ways to improve cash flow; 48 percent plan to start or continue to upgrade their business technology to increase efficiency; and 44 percent plan to add new technology to improve the customer experiences.
Efficiency is key: 36 percent of those who don’t plan additional hiring say they expect to do more work—but do it with fewer employees. How can you make this happen?
- Systematize processes at your business so less time is wasted.
- Cross-train employees in each others’ duties so they can fill in for absent workers when necessary.
- Use cloud storage so you and your team can access business data and documents from anywhere, anytime.
- Implement mobile tools such as smartphones to connect employees remotely and simplify getting work done.
One-third of women in the survey say their number-one technology priority in the next six months is to improve their company’s online presence. If you haven’t already done so:
- Make sure customers have multiple ways to contact your business from your website, including phone number, email and chat.
- Optimize your website for mobile use with simple design, big buttons and photos that load quickly.
- Use online advertising and SEO to push your website higher in search results when customers look for your type of business.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.