Vistaprint N.V. (NASDAQ: VPRT), a leading online provider of professional marketing products and services to micro businesses and the home, today revealed the results of its first "Small Business Happiness Index" for 2012. The index gauges micro business owner sentiment and provides information on topics that include their overall happiness, customer growth, revenue and a desire to continue to work for themselves, rather than someone else.
The quarterly survey generated over 1,900 responses from U.S. based micro businesses (businesses with between 1-10 employees), and showed the vast majority (79 percent) increased their total customer count in 2011. Correspondingly, 71 percent indicated that they had also seen an increase in revenue as a result. Both are positive signs for the overall economy as well as the micro business market, which numbers more than 25 million businesses in the U.S. alone.
In terms of optimism in running their own businesses, 64 percent of micro businesses are "extremely happy" or "very happy," while 69 percent said that they strongly preferred being self-employed, rather than working for someone else. Both of these results were consistent with data from last quarter's survey, not showing any marked rise or decline.
"Optimism is always important in business and we've seen that micro business owners are collectively a very positive, resilient group. However, seeing measurable increases in both customer count and revenue is very good news," said Don LeBlanc, chief marketing officer of Vistaprint's North American Business Unit. "What these results tell us is that on the whole, this group hasn't been subject to the same ebbs and flows as larger small businesses. That they are able to grow significantly in a down economy is truly remarkable."
Some detailed numbers from the survey around customer growth, revenue and goals for 2011 included:
-- 87 percent of micro businesses met some or most of their goals for the
-- 29 percent reported an increase of more than 30 customers, while 36
percent increased by 1-10.
-- In terms of revenue, 28 percent cited an increase of between 11-19
percent, while 25 percent grew by between 1-10 percent.
Micro businesses cited customer growth as the most important goal when asked about plans for 2012. According to this year's survey, 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. Looking ahead to 2012, micro businesses said that the two channels they will rely on to increase their customer base will be referrals and direct mail. Both got 25 percent of responses, followed by website traffic at 16 percent.
"It's not surprising that micro businesses continue to use the most tried and true method of marketing, word-of-mouth," continued LeBlanc. "Social media is a natural extension of that. We also find it interesting that direct mail is a channel micro businesses believe will help them to acquire more customers in 2012. If they are able to bridge the gap between offline and online marketing, they will undoubtedly be more effective in achieving their goals."
Vistaprint conducts regular surveys with its U.S. micro business customer base, defined as small businesses with between 1-10 employees that primarily work out of their homes and generate less than $100,000 annually in revenues. This online survey was conducted from January 29 to February 6, 2012 with over 1,900 total respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
While the Small Business Happiness Index offers insight about the sentiment of micro businesses generally, it does not indicate or represent changes in Vistaprint's business results for any period.