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Outlook of Women Small Business Owners- American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Growth Pulse

The American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Growth Pulse, is based on a survey of 1,000 small businesses with $250,000 or more in annual revenues and fewer than 100 employees.

Women Business Owner Highlights

Noteworthy women business owner highlights are as follows:

  • The number stating growth is the top priority for their business has grown significantly since August (82%, up from 71%) and is also higher when compared to male counterparts (76%)
  • They are optimistic about holiday sales this year – with the majority saying they will be the same (55%) or better (38%) than last year
  • The majority (72%) are not planning to hire additional staff for the holiday season
  • The holiday season is typically responsible for twenty-one percent of their yearly sales
  • On average they will spend a total of $3,630 on holiday gifts for clients, nearly half of what men plan to spend $6,920
  • They are more likely than men to give bonuses to employees (56% vs. 43% of men)
  • Compared to last year, 46 percent (vs. 35% of men) say they will not be giving larger employee bonuses this holiday season

Growth Outlook and Managing through the Holidays

The number of women businesses owners stating growth is the top priority for their business has grown significantly since August (82%, up from 71%) and is also higher when compared to male counterparts (76%). The biggest concern that women business owners have about growing their businesses during the holidays is balancing their holiday needs with long-range growth plans (18% vs. 19% overall and 21% of men).

Women business owners are optimistic about holiday sales this year – with the majority saying they will be the same (55%) or better (38%) than last year. Women small businesses are particularly bullish and are placing greater weight on the holiday season for their future growth. Further, 43% feel their potential for business growth in 2016 will be contingent on a successful holiday season, higher when compared to men (37%) and small business owners overall (40%).The holiday season is typically responsible for twenty-one percent of women business owners’ yearly sales.

Despite high expectations for holiday sales, the majority (72%) of women business owners are not planning to hire additional staff for the holiday season. Among those that do plan to hire additional staff, 62% plan to keep new hires on the payroll for only one to three months. Only 12% of small business owners plan to retain temporary holiday employees for more than six months.

Holiday Gift-Giving and Bonuses

More than two-thirds (68%) of women business owners will spend money on holiday gifts for clients or customers this holiday season. Compared to last year, 65% plan to spend the same amount this year, 23% plan to spend more and 13% plan to spend less (vs. just 7% of men). On average, they will spend a total of $3,630 nearly half of what men plan to spend $6,920.

Women business owners will be rewarding employees in a variety of ways this holiday season. More than half (57%) plan to host a holiday party, while 46% plan to give gifts. For those planning to host a holiday party, the average amount they expect to spend is $1,650. Sixty-eight percent say this amount is similar to what they spent last year and 22% say they will spend more than last year (while only 10% plan to spend less).

Women business owners are more likely than men to give bonuses to employees (56% vs. 43% of men). When it comes to the size of the bonus, 57% of women (vs. 42% of men) indicate that their employees can expect something equivalent to “a small stocking stuffer” (less than 5% of annual salary), 21% (vs, 26% of men) expect to give a gift “too large to fit in the stocking” (5 to 15% of salary) and 17% (vs. 27% of men) say their employees should expect “a lump of coal” (no bonus at all). Only 5% (identical to men) will give staff the “gift of their dreams” (more than 15% of their salary).

Comparing the bonuses they will give this year to last year, forty-six percent of female business owners (vs. 35% of men) say they will not be giving larger employee bonuses this holiday season while fewer women (37%, vs. 47% of men) say they will give larger bonuses.

Measuring Success and Marketing their Business

Women business owners will measure success this holiday season in several ways. About half (51%) of small business owners consider adding new customers as their most important success metric, followed by reaching a specific sales goal (45%) and increasing word of mouth and awareness of their business (44%). Among those who will require additional funding this holiday season to meet their goals (28%), the amount they will need equates to roughly 14% of their average monthly expenditures.

When considering the different marketing tools that women business owners can leverage this holiday season, 45% plan to use social media, 35% plan to use email blasts, 23% plan to use mobile/digital advertising, fewer plan to use direct mail or in-store promotions (22%, each) and only 13% will use TV and radio advertising.

Survey Methodology American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Growth Pulse is based on an online sample of 1,000 U.S. small business owners/managers of companies with $250,000 or more in revenues and fewer than 100 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via the Internet by Ebiquity October 7-14, 2015. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95% level of confidence.

About American Express OPEN

American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners and entrepreneurs with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com and twitter.com/openforum.

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com  and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

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