Less is More

Optimism is rising among small business owners, but, according to a recent Citibank survey, the rosier outlook may not lead to more hiring, Dow Jones Newswire reports today.

While more than 80% of small company CEOs think that 2011 will be better than 2010, only 14% say they will hire additional employees. Unfortunately, this is a refrain we continue to hear and feel. Though the economic climate may be moderately more robust, many businesses must recoup losses of previous years. They also face higher borrowing rates and rising health care costs.

What do we do? I think caution is a good attitude in this uncertain climate—especially in Washington, where talks of extreme budget cuts for the city, slashes in Federal spending, and a reduced government workforce instill anxiety. Many of us have a wait-and-see attitude about hiring and investing.

The good news is that, like our parents and grandparents’ generations, we’ve learned how to live better and smarter with less. Small businesses are using this time to train their employees and expand their expertise. Freelancers and temporary staff are coming in to fill spikes in our workloads. New lines of services and products are being developed. And entrepreneurs are diving into social media—putting time into marketing their businesses online and in person to incur fewer dollars and bring a higher rate of return.

Raj Seshadri, the head of small-business banking at Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup Inc, says, “owners will work longer hours, increase marketing to drive sales growth and improve employee productivity–making the costs they already have work for them.”

The future is bright because we’re channeling our “start-up” selves, tapping those creative juices, remembering our ingenuity. I’d love to hear what you are doing.

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