To wrap up National Small Business Week, we held a TweetChat with our friend Brian Moran on Friday, May 17th, regarding the state of small business. The chat focused on results we found in our 2013 Benchmark Expense Survey, which can be found here, and the implications the survey results have on the future of small to mid-size businesses. In case you missed the chat, check out a transcript below.
Brian: Tell our followers 2-3 things that they really should know about PEX Card?
PEX Card: We provide companies the ability to provide Visa cards to employees that need to spend on behalf of the company. The business owner controls in real time exactly how much and where each employ spends; for example, YES to fuel, NO to restaurants. These aren’t credit cards. The business uses it's own money, not a bank line, and no more employee expense waste. It's a great expense management tool.
Brian: Your annual business survey came out a few months ago, what were some of the highlights?
PEX Card: The survey was focused on expense, and more than 50% of respondents reported increases in compensation, insurance, fuel and equipment. But that was more good news than bad: 56% cited business growth as the reason – it was just over 30% last year. 63% of all businesses expect increases in spending next year, and the proportion is nearly identical in small vs big business.
Brian: In talking to your customers, what business issues keep most of them up at night?
PEX Card: The survey says: #1 reason for insomnia among businesses: Expenses eating into profits – 22% of respondents. The #2 reason was generating new sales at 17%. So #1 and #2 capture both sides of the cash flow formula. Not growing fast enough and time management were pretty much tied at #3 – 13% and 12% respectively.
Brian: So what does all this mean for small and mid-size businesses?
PEX Card: Overall it’s really good news. Almost 60% cited business growth as a reason for expense increases. There’s even good news in the high expense categories. 50% cited increases in fuel but that was down from 65% in 2012, and a recent American Express survey indicated that fewer businesses were stressed out by the economy.
Brian: Do your customers want to engage with @PEXCard via social media? If yes, in what ways? Customer Service? Sign up?
PEX Card: Yes, but it clearly differs by industry. Companies that are further along in using social to acquire customers engage more.
Brian: In what other ways do you see small business customers using social media? Is it an integral part of their sales/marketing mix?
PEX Card: The biggest use among small business is to attract new customers. A growing number are learning more from prospects and customers and to develop communities. But the curve is steep.
Brian: How has better access to mobile technology changed the way small business owners operate?
PEX Card: For our customers, we see a lot more real business handled on the road as supervisors find themselves on a job offsite. Mobile technology makes it easy to move money from card to card without being chained to a desktop.
Brian: PEX Card has another customer survey coming out this summer, what are some results you expect to see from it?
PEX Card: The mid-year survey is more about attitudes toward business than hard expense numbers. I expect to see continued optimism about business growth and continued less pessimism about the economy. Notice I didn’t say increased optimism about economy. Businesses are now making more studied decisions about growing.
Brian: Any final words of advice for small business owners?
PEX Card: Continue the track that you’re on. Stay on top of your expenses and your revenues; find way to improve both sides.
We will continue our monthly #PEXCardChat series on Twitter. What are some topics you would like us to discuss? Let us know!