Ace Hardware Survey Shows American Small Businesses Bullish on U.S. Economy

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Significant numbers of U.S. small business owners exude optimism about the American economy even amid today's many corporate bailouts and industry-wide rescue plans, a new national study reveals.

To learn that a number of survey respondents report their businesses have not suffered during this recession and another equal number see positive developments in 12 months or less portrays an upbeat mindset among many entrepreneurs in this country

Significant numbers of U.S. small business owners exude optimism about the American economy even amid today's many corporate bailouts and industry-wide rescue plans, a new national study reveals.

More than three in 10 entrepreneurs in the Ace Hardware Entrepreneurship Study reported the economy either has not had a negative impact on their business (15 percent) or that they believe the economy will recover enough within one year to have a positive impact (16 percent). Fifty-three percent estimated the economy will turn around enough within the next two to three years to benefit their firms.

"To learn that a number of survey respondents report their businesses have not suffered during this recession and another equal number see positive developments in 12 months or less portrays an upbeat mindset among many entrepreneurs in this country," said John Venhuizen, vice president of business development at Ace Hardware Corporation. "Based on our experience working with thousands of entrepreneurial store owners, these results reflect the ability of small businesses to be more responsive to their local market, more flexible in approach and more nimble to execute when facing economic challenges, likely more so than large corporations.

"To illustrate, homeowners today have limited budgets to embark on major renovations," Venhuizen said. "The convenience home maintenance market, therefore, has focused on encouraging customers to tackle less expensive maintenance and repair tasks to preserve and improve their homes. The emphasis is on preservation, not renovation, projects."

Economist Dr. Chris Kuehl, who counsels small businesses and is economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Assn., Intl., agrees entrepreneurs can take advantage of the weakened economy when larger competitors "abandon some aspects of their markets or go out of business. This opens up market share for those in a position to expand."

This ability for small business owners to quickly make their own decisions on issues such as marketing strategies is a significant benefit of entrepreneurship, the study revealed. Independence, cited by 73 percent, topped the list when the entrepreneurs were asked to rank the greatest rewards of owning a business.

The dominant attribute of independence likely explains why the majority of the entrepreneurs, when asked the most effective way government can assist them to survive and thrive, opted for an approach unencumbered by red tape and bureaucracy.

Tax cuts, by far, ranked as the preferred method, cited by 43 percent of respondents. Other tactics noted were easier access to loans (16 percent), federal grants (16 percent), incentive programs (13 percent) and reduced regulations (11 percent).

The Ace Hardware Entrepreneurship Study surveyed 538 U.S. small business owners to gain their perceptions on the motivations, challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship. The national Web-based poll was conducted in the spring.

About Ace Hardware
Throughout its 85-year history, Ace Hardware has been known as the helpful hardware store by both customers and communities. With 4,600 hardware, home center and building materials stores that generate annual retail sales of approximately $12 billion, Ace is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the industry. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., Ace currently operates 14 distribution centers in the U.S. and one in Shanghai, China, and its retailers' stores are located in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. For more information on Ace, visit http://www.acehardware.com.

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Tara Peitzer
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