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Small-Biz Owners Optimistic, But Concerned About Cybersecurity

American small business owners believe their companies are primed for a strong 2015, a new survey shows. The poll from the National Small Business Association (NSBA) revealed that 72% of owners are somewhat or very confident in the financial future of their companies.

American small business owners believe their companies are primed for a strong 2015, a new survey shows. The poll from the National Small Business Association (NSBA) revealed that 72% of owners are somewhat or very confident in the financial future of their companies.

Powered by that optimism, 60% of U.S. small-business owners anticipate that gross sales and revenues will accelerate in 2015. Additionally, 54% expect net profits to increase this year, compared to just 18% that project profit declines.  The bullish outlook follows a 2014 in which small-business performance was mixed, the survey revealed. Last year, 45% of respondents reported that they increased gross sales and revenues, but 34% reported declines. Meanwhile, 41% of owners said profits rose in 2014, versus 37% who indicated a decrease.  

Worldwide, the performance and outlook of small businesses was decidedly positive. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of owners say sales revenue increased last year, a separate poll from The Alternative Board found. That survey further revealed that 82% of owners expect their sales trajectories to continue northward in 2015. To drive growth this year, owners are most frequently relying on advertising and marketing (51% of respondents), digital and e-commerce expansion (34%) and strategic alliances (31%), the NSBA survey reported.

While owners are optimistic, they continue to grapple with fears over a significant threat: Cyberattacks. More than 90% of respondents to the NSBA survey say cybersecurity is a concern, and half of owners report that their companies have been cyber-attacked. Additionally, 61% say that their firms have been victimized within the past 12 months. The breaches come at an onerous cost to companies – on average, each attack costs small businesses $20,752, or about 140% more than the per-attack average from the prior year.