January 05, 2010

10 Small Business Tips For 2010

Small Business Owners Share Advice for Navigating the New Year
RIVERWOODS, Ill., Jan 05, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Who better to offer New Year's advice to small business owners than small business owners themselves? Savvy and determined entrepreneurs across the country share their experiences every month with the Discover(R) Small Business WatchSM, and their collective wisdom from the past year could save their peers a lot of time and trouble in 2010.

"Trial and error is a great learning tool, but the tolerance for mistakes by a small business owner in challenging times can be costly," said Ryan Scully, director of Discover's business credit card. "That's why it pays to learn from the past and use those lessons to succeed. The sooner America's small businesses are thriving again, the sooner we'll all be much better off."

10 Tips for 2010

1. Start Preparing Your Taxes Now: Organize tax information early or it can distract you from running your business: 46 percent of small business owners say that finding and organizing the documents they need to prepare their taxes is very or somewhat difficult, and 77 percent of small business owners find the tax preparation and documentation process very or somewhat time consuming, which only takes them away from tending to their bottom lines.

2. Cut Personal Expenses: Find ways to cut costs outside of the business, because you'll likely have to take home less pay and even go into your savings: 69 percent of small business owners say that current economic conditions are forcing them to reduce the amount of money they take home from their businesses, and 61 percent think they are very or somewhat likely to use their personal assets in the next year to keep their businesses afloat.

3. Think Green: Small business owners think the following business segments have the best opportunities for post-recovery growth, in order of importance: green industries, business services, technology and energy.

4. Have a Long-Term Plan: 43 percent of small business owners who have been hurt by the current economy say that it will be more than 12 months before their businesses rebound, followed by another 24 percent who expect that it will take six to 12 months to be in the clear.

5. Don't Focus on the Money: Only 12 percent of entrepreneurs say that "making more money" is the biggest reason they became a small business owner; while 46 percent say they are motivated by having "more flexibility with their time" and by "being their own boss."

6. Use the Web: 32 percent of small business owners who are part of an online networking community say that their biggest benefit from social networking is "getting new business leads." Moreover, 47 percent of 3,000 consumers surveyed say they are more likely to use a small business that has a Web site.

7. Rely on Yourself: Don't overextend yourself by borrowing too much in the beginning: 64 percent of small business owners say that they did not need financial capital to start their businesses. Among those who did need the capital, 45 percent received it from their personal savings, and another 16 percent borrowed from family and friends.

8. Focus on Sales: One way to stay on course is to keep a sharp focus on sales: Owners say that sales generation is the biggest issue facing their businesses today, followed by taxes, operating costs, health insurance, access to capital and inflation.

9. Stay in Touch with Family: 31 percent of small business owners say that they are very likely or somewhat likely to borrow money from family and friends in the next 12 months in order to stay in business.

10. Stay Healthy: Preventive medicine and taking care of yourself are important, given that 65 percent of small business owners report that it is somewhat or very difficult to obtain affordable health care for themselves and their employees.

Data was collected in 2009 as part of the monthly Discover Small Business Watch poll of 750 random small business owners with less than five employees. The survey of business owners has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The views and opinions expressed by small business owners 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 have 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 750 small business owners. It is commissioned by 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 2006. In addition to generating the index, the Small Business Watch surveys small business owners every month on key issues, and polls 3,000 consumers four times per year to gauge purchasing behavior and attitudes towards small businesses. For past results and survey data, visit For information on Discover Business card, visit

About Discover

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. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers student and personal loans, as well as savings products such as certificates of deposit and money market accounts. Its payments businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit

SOURCE: Discover Financial Services

Jon Drummond
Discover Financial Services
Amanda Bonzo
Robinson Lerer & Montgomery