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New survey shows concerns about cash flow

Economic confidence among America’s small business owners plummeted indiscover1 November, as more owners cited serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic conditions for their own businesses getting worse. The Discover® Small Business WatchSM index fell 12 points in November to 76.5 from 88.5 in October.

“Fading confidence among small business owners could be tied to their low expectations for the upcoming holiday season, as 46% are forecasting decreased sales and 39% are expecting to hold the line,” said Ryan Scully, director of Discover’s business credit card. “However, we saw drops in optimism across the board, so it’s hardly just one factor causing the concern.”

The mood of small business owners generally has soured in November for three straight years, as economic confidence dropped from October to November in 2007 and 2008. The November 2008 index of 67.5 is the low point for the Watch since it started in August 2006.

November Highlights:

  • 52% of owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, up from 44% in October. Forty-one percent of owners say they have not experienced cash flow issues, which is the lowest response in this category since the Watch began. The remaining 6% said they weren’t sure.
  • 53% of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the next six months, up from 43% in October; while 19% report that conditions are improving, a sharp decline from 29% in October; 23% see conditions as the same, and 5% weren’t sure.
  • 62% of small business owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55% in October; 30% rate it as fair, and 8% say it is good or excellent.
  • 53% of small business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44% in October but still significantly lower than the 69% of owners who felt that way in February 2009, the last time the Watch index was this low. For November; 28% say the economy is getting better, down from 35% in October; 16% see it staying the same, and 3% are not sure.

The Discover Small Business Watch is a monthly index measuring the relative economic confidence of U.S. small business owners who have less than five employees, a segment that consists of 22 million businesses producing more than a trillion dollars in annual receipts. The Watch is based on a national random survey of 750 small business owners. It is commissioned by Discover Business card and is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, LLC (, an independent survey research firm. For more information, visit

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