Survey: U.S. Small Businesses More Self-Reliant than Global SMBs

Looking at small businesses across the globe, small businesses in the United States stand out for their self-reliance and confidence.

Business management services company Sage released its 2013 Business Index on Wednesday, and when it comes to self-reliance, U.S. small businesses are tops.

Surveying more than 11,000 small businesses internationally, Sage found that only 43% of SMBs in the United States think the government needs to put more pressure on banks to lend.

This is significantly less than the average of 63% seen across all markets and dramatically less than the countries with the greatest percentage of small businesses who want more government intervention. Eighty-five percent of Spanish small businesses, for instance, want government assistance when it comes to lending, with Ireland and France falling closely behind at 83% and 76%, respectively.

“My opinion, based on what we’ve seen, is that this attitude speaks to the fact that the American Dream is still alive and well. Small businesses believe that their source of success is through hard work themselves, as opposed to the government helping them out,” says Connie Certusi, general manager of the Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions business unit.

Confidence Is Key in the U.S.

Certusi says Sage looked at three types of confidence in the survey: Confidence in individual business prospects, confidence in the country’s economy and confidence in the global economy.

Over the last two years, Certusi says U.S. small businesses have shown marked improvement in their confidence about their own performance and the U.S. economy.

U.S. business owners showed a ten-point increase in confidence about their own businesses, while the global average in this category rose only four points. Additionally, confidence in the United States’ future rose 11 points, while the global average inched up only two points.

Certusi says this level of confidence in the U.S. suggests business owners are ready to hunker down and expand their companies.

“Despite all the noise on the budget or health care or whatever, they’re focused on growing their businesses,” says Certusi.

While the U.S. is more confident than many other countries, global optimism is also on the rise.

“We are seeing, across the board, confidence is improving,” says Certusi. Sage suggests this uptick is encouraging risk-taking, which many business owners say is crucial to achieving success.

Forty-seven percent of business owners say they are risk-takers, while only 32% say they are risk averse. And a great many more –nearly 75% -- say risk-taking is necessary for success, suggesting that even business owners who describe themselves as risk averse will take on risk if necessary.

In Brazil, business owners are the most likely to describe themselves as risk takers, with 56% saying they willingly take on risk. In this regard, the U.S. fell in the middle of the pack, with 47% identifying as risk takers. The most conservative country was Austria, with only one-third of owners enjoying risk and nearly half reporting themselves as being risk-averse.