While few businesses really had a “good” 2011, unless good is measured on a sliding scale, it’s safe to say that larger enterprises generally had an easier time navigating an extremely tricky economy than smaller ones. Yet more than 40% of SMBs say they are optimistic or very optimistic about their businesses as 2012 starts, according to a survey from Zoomerang. This figure becomes even more impressive when you consider that 61% of SMBs report they are facing economic hardships and 50% say they failed to meet business goals in 2011.
A deeper dive into Zoomerang’s data shows that SMBs are not naïve in their business optimism. For example, only 19% of respondents revealed plans to expand their businesses in 2012, focusing instead on internal growth. According to the survey results, 60% of SMBs plan to focus investments and staffing in the business development sector to offset challenges experienced in customer growth. SMBs plan to fill existing positions or promote employees within business development and social media departments – focusing on internal processes instead of altering business plans.
And when it comes to customer growth, it is interesting that one-third of respondents plan to use advertising, marketing and social media as the primary methods of attracting new customers, despite 25% stating that they do not personally feel comfortable with social media tools.
MSPs Should Also Be OptimisticThese survey results should also make MSPs serving the SMB sector cautiously optimistic for 2012. Like SMBs, MSPs should prepare for customer growth without unrealistic expectations of dramatic expansion or wholesale new systems implementations. The addition and/or promotion of employees will likely require some reconfiguration and streamlining of existing corporate systems, and possibly the addition of new access points, such as mobile devices.
Furthermore, MSPs should closely investigate the possibility of providing managed advertising, marketing and social media tools to SMBs seeking to grow their customer bases in a tight market. Social media in particular is a leading edge technology which SMBs are just starting to discover, making now the perfect time for MSPs to develop a social media practice aimed at SMB clients. It is not likely that SMBs will want to undertake massive social media technology overhauls in 2012, but by introducing them to basic social media tools and services this year, MSPs can hopefully help SMBs grow their businesses so that in 2013, they will be ready for some real expansion.