Earlier this week, I blogged about how more small businesses are turning to social media to cut their marketing costs and increase their connection with consumers. This is just one strategy that small businesses owners plan to take in 2010 as they struggle to emerge from the deep recession. A Forbes study finds that small business owners intend to apply the difficult lessons they’ve learned in the past year. Study participants agree or strongly agree as follows:

  • I’m working harder than ever to run my business: 71%
  • I’m smarter about running my business as a result of lessons learned in the past year: 80%
  • The challenges of the recession have made me a stronger leader: 70%

These business owners also indicate that they will spend more time strategically planning for their future. Just over half of small business owners say they will stick to their core business while 46% will pursue new revenue streams. Regardless of their business strategies, small business owners know they need to renew their focus on marketing. Here are the study results:

  • We will invest more on marketing: 62%
  • Marketing will focus on branding: 42%
  • Marketing will focus on lead development: 48%

Study analysts noted that “[g]iven the stress the recession put on sales pipelines of many small businesses, the lack of overwhelming focus on lead generation could be cause for concern.”

But there’s another way to interpret the data. Many small business owners must wear multiple hats, simultaneously. To recover from the recession, they must streamline costs, improve efficiency and increase sales. Since nearly 1/2 of these businesses say they plan to focus on lead development and nearly 2/3’s are investing more in marketing, the long-term strategy may be just right.

[Source: U.S. Small Business Outlook 2010: Lessons Learned – A Case for Greater Optimism. Forbes Insights (in association with CIT). February 2010]