May 27, 2008

Discover(R) Small Business Watch(SM): Small Business Economic Confidence Picks Up As Cash Flow Issues Improve

Owners Feel Better About Conditions for Their Businesses, Fewer
Think Overall Economy Is Getting Worse


Even On Vacation, More Business Owners Stay Connected, Spend Less
Time Away

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 27, 2008--Small business owners halted a steady decline in their economic confidence in May as the number of those with cash flow issues decreased to its lowest total in six months. The Discover(R) Small Business Watch(SM) rose more than five and a half points in May to 81.8, up from 76.1 in April.

"Cash flow is such a key indicator, that whenever business owners tell us cash issues have improved, we expect to see a rise in confidence," said Ryan Scully, director of Discover's business credit card. "Together with improved confidence in economic conditions for their own businesses, cash flow issues will be a good barometer of whether this rise in economic confidence is a trend, or just another blip in what has been a downward pattern for almost a full year."

May Key Findings:

  • 28 percent of owners say that economic conditions for their business are getting better, an increase over 24 percent in April.

  • 71 percent of small business owners think the U.S. economy is getting worse, a decrease from 76 percent in April.

  • 39 percent say they have experienced cash flow issues over the last 90 days, a decrease from 44 percent in April and 47 percent in March.

Poll: Owners Work More Than Most People, Stay Connected Via E-mail

Overall, small business owners are spending more hours per day and more days per week on the job than the rest of the population. Clearly 45 percent of small business owners work six or seven days a week, more than twice the 19 percent of the general population who have a similar schedule.

The state of the economy hasn't helped, either. One in 4 small business owners said they are working more hours because of the economic downturn, with 55 percent working the same number of hours.

"The flexibility and independence that is so precious to this segment is even more important in light of the time business owners spend on the job," Scully said. "They depend on their customers and clients, so staying connected to the business nearly round the clock is all part of the process."

Even when they are away, small business owners often stay in touch with the office: 40 percent admit to carrying a wireless email device to keep in touch with their business, customer and clients when taking time off of work. Luckily, their spouses usually understand. Fifty-three percent of owners say their spouse approves of them checking business email on their days off or during vacation, but patience may be running thin. That percentage is down from 55 percent a year ago.

More Work Survey Highlights:

  • 59 percent of small business owners define a "day off" as being available for calls and emails, working some time or even working all day at a remote location. Only 31 percent of the general population feels the same.

  • 23 percent of owners have not taken a planned vacation that lasted at least a week in more than four years.

  • 25 percent of owners indicated they work 10 to 12 hours per day, compared to 15 percent of the general population who say they work that much.

  • On official holidays, 47 percent say they are at work "always" or "most of the time."

The views and opinions expressed by small business owners and consumers who participate in the Small Business Watch survey are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Discover Financial Services or its affiliates.

About the Small Business Watch

The Discover Small Business Watch is a monthly index measuring the relative economic confidence of U.S. small business owners who employ less than five employees, a segment that consists of 22 million businesses producing more than a trillion dollars in annual receipts. The Watch is based on a national random survey of 1,000 small business owners. It is commissioned by the Discover Business Card, which strives to offer the best business credit card for American small businesses, and is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, LLC (, an independent survey research firm. The numeric index is calculated by assigning values to responses to a set of six consistent questions. The base value of the Watch was established at 100.0 based on surveys conducted in August of 2006. In addition to generating the index, the Small Business Watch surveys small business viewpoints on key business drivers, and also surveys 4,000 consumers to gauge purchasing behavior and attitudes towards small businesses. For past results and small business survey data, visit For information on Discover Business Card, visit

About Discover Financial Services

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) is a leading credit card issuer and electronic payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. The company operates the Discover Card, America's cash rewards pioneer. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. Its payments businesses consist of the Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations, and PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Discover Financial Services
Jon Drummond
Robinson Lerer & Montgomery
Daniel Delson

SOURCE: Discover Financial Services