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"Micros" show revenue, customer growth in 2011

Posted by Jason Keith  February 29, 2012 09:00 AM

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Happiness is a tricky thing to measure. What isn't hard to measure is revenue and the number of customers a business has.

It's even easier when you're a micro business, with less than 10 employees and when every customer counts. While everyone else is apparently worrying about what the pending tax legislation will mean for small businesses, the owners on the ground every day are diligently working to improve their standing in the business community. The good news is, that hard work is clearly paying off.

Micro businesses, according to a survey released this week, saw increases in both customers and revenue for 2011 and are incredibly happy in running their business, despite a difficult set of economic circumstances. The survey was conducted by Vistaprint and is termed the "Happiness Index," which gauges micro business owner sentiment and data on their customer growth, revenue and a desire to continue to work for themselves, rather than someone else.

The study showed that 79 percent of U.S. based micro businesses increased their total customer count in 2011 and correspondingly, 71 percent saw an increase in revenue as a result. With more than 25 million micro businesses in the U.S. alone, these results are positive signs for the overall economy.

While setting goals is always important for any business, meeting them is even more important. Micro businesses did a great job at meeting their goals, as 87 percent met some or most of their goals for the year.

In terms of actual customer and revenue growth, 29 percent reported an increase of more than 30 customers, while 36 percent increased by 1-10. With revenue, 28 percent cited an increase of between 11-19 percent, while 25 percent grew by between 1-10 percent.

Finally, when it comes to marketing, word of mouth is still king for this group. As I've mentioned in the past, referrals are the lifeblood of the small business market, and the data certainly backs that up. Respondents said that the most effective marketing channel in driving revenue and customers in 2011 was word-of-mouth, garnering 54 percent of responses. Social media ranked second at 13 percent.That's not shocking, given the close parallels between customer engagement, online research and conversion rates. Chances are if someone sees a good review of you via social media, you're more likely to get a look as a potential business for that customer.

Any segment of the small business community that is seeing growth in real dollars and customers they are working with is encouraging. The question is, are larger small businesses seeing the same kinds of results? What about you, did your business grow in 2011? If so, why and if not, why not?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

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