Ted Natt: Women More Bullish on Economy
I had lunch last week with a female business owner who is bullish on the direction that the economy in Moore County is headed.
She was upbeat, positive and optimistic.
In other words, she was the perfect candidate for the first-ever PNC Women Business Owners Outlook, which recently sought to gauge the outlook, mindset and business philosophy of women business owners across the country.
The survey found that women owners are satisfied with their overall business performance, as six out of 10 say their companies are currently meeting or exceeding expectations. But they show a reluctance to take on long-term financing or make capital investments in the months ahead.
"Our women's survey findings reinforce that the U.S. economy continues to suffer through this current soft patch, as growth has slowed into the realm of stalled speed," says Stuart Hoffman, chief economist of the PNC Financial Services Group Inc. "Even though we are dialing back our expectations for the second half of 2011, we do not expect the economy to slide into a double-dip recession."
The survey also shows that women owners are funding their businesses with credit cards and personal savings instead of long-term bank financing. Fifty-nine percent of respondents use a business credit card, while 44 percent rely on personal or family savings to fund their businesses.
"While women business owners often describe themselves as being debt-averse, those who rely strictly on savings and credit cards leave few options to weather downturns without cashing in personal assets or taking a hit to their personal credit history," says Beth Marcello, director of women's business development at PNC.
The survey notes that women owners rely on an average of 2.7 sources of money to fund their businesses.
Other sources of capital include a line of credit from a financial institution, personal credit card and a business loan from a financial institution.
Other findings include:
n Business is good: Women owners are pleased with their current financial performance, as 11 percent say their business is exceeding expectations, and 50 percent say it is meeting expectations.
n Sales and profits: Fifty-one percent expect their sales to increase, 31 percent expect them to remain the same, and 14 percent expect them to decrease. Meanwhile, 41 percent expect to see higher profits, 32 percent expect them to remain the same, and 24 percent expect them to decrease.
n Stalled hiring outlook: Seventy-three percent have no plans to hire full-time employees, and 63 percent expect no change in the number of part-time employees.
n Big picture: Eight out of 10 women owners are optimistic about their own businesses, but only 41 percent intend to make a capital investment. Their outlook for the larger economy is gloomy, as 49 percent are pessimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy and 37 percent are pessimistic about their local economy.
My lunch date may be a contrarian, but her opinion is no less valid.
The federal government has been telling us that the recession has been over for more than a year. While my friend doesn't concur 100 percent, she sees encouraging signs of improvement.
Hopefully, you do as well.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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