In the latest American Express OPEN® Small Business Monitor, the country’s entrepreneurs say they see the light at the end of the tunnel. The report finds that SMBs are feeling more optimistic about the future and are ready to start investing in their businesses again. But the survey also found that one group of SMBs, high achievers, will take more aggressive steps to ensure success and this includes enhancing their social media strategy.

Overall,  only 20% of SMB owners believe the economy is the chief limiting factor to their growth and 59% report feeling stressed by the economy. These numbers reflect improvements over the figures reported in the spring. The improved attitudes have not yet extended to hiring, with only 29% of SMBs planning to bring on new employees.

The survey indicates that the ‘high achiever’ SMB owners, which represent only 6% of the total, have a far different attitude from the rest of the pack. These individuals tend to have significant experience, over 26 years in business, and have managed to grow their firms 34%  since 2009.  Certain factors differentiate the strategy of the high-achieving SMB:

  • Risk-taking: 67%
  • Increased hiring in the next 6 months: 66%
  • Growth is a top priority: 51%

To generate growth, 84% of these businesses will deliver better service to existing customers and 44% will use loyalty rewards to make sure these customers keep buying from them. Nearly half, 41%, will find a way to differentiate their products or services from what the competition is offering. To do so, they’ll turn to more marketing, especially social media. 70% will use social media for general marketing purposes. And, 79% say their use of this format will help them find new customers.

With these aggressive strategies, it’s easy to see how these businesses will continue to maintain high growth rates.

[Source: Small Business Owners Taking “Wait and See” Approach to Growth. Fall Monitor 2012. American Express. 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012]