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Small and Medium-Sized Businesses are Optimistic about Economic Turnaround Despite A Desire For More Support from Government, Study Finds

SMBs have faith in their own employees, leadership abilities and integration of technology to ensure strong recovery

Denver, CO and Washington, DC – May 18, 2009 – Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may be the most optimistic group in America with regard to the economic recovery, although they would appreciate more support from government, according to a study released today at National Small Business Week. In fact, one out of four SMBs expects the turnaround to begin in late 2009.The study, Understanding Growth Priorities of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Verio Inc., the leading provider in delivering online business solutions to SMBs worldwide.

Despite the global economic downturn, 83 percent of small business executives stated they are optimistic about their company’s long term ability to rebound when the economy improves. However, 48 percent of respondents stated that local government is “unsupportive” or “not at all supportive” of their efforts and 39 percent say the same of national government, with almost a third of the respondents citing that “mid-size businesses do not attract enough attention” as a primary reason behind the lack of support. Larger enterprises garner greater media attention due to their size putting smaller companies at a disadvantage. In fact, 28 percent of SMBs said that the public at large perceives large enterprises as more important.

“While it is not clear if small and medium-sized firms believe they would benefit from a greater focus from governments and non-profit agencies, the data suggests a call to action for the public sector to think about programs that may offer greater aid to these companies during this difficult economic period,” says Debra D’Agostino, Deputy Director in the Americas, Industry and Management Research at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

SMBs demonstrated great optimism in their own employees and leadership to ensure survival in the current economic climate with nearly three quarters of respondents indicating that employees are their greatest supporters. In addition, technology is a critical component to the success of SMBs as the study shows 57 percent “agree or strongly agree” that technology will be a critical competitive advantage to bring them out of the recession.

“Show me the opportunities!”- That’s what SMBs will be focusing on during these turbulent times,” said Laurel Delaney, president and founder, GlobeTrade.com (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company), of the report’s findings. “Whether they get help or not, they will continue to push boundaries and improve their business processes. It’s not a matter of surviving; it’s a case of extreme thriving. After all, they’ve come this far successfully by understanding what they have, what they know about and what their customers want. Now it’s just a case of relentless pursuit of opportunity and delivering results.”

Other findings in the study include:

  • Once the economy improves, 65 percent of respondents expect their firms will enter into new geographic markets.
  • 51 percent of respondents say their technology efforts will focus on improving processes and new ways to improve their business.
  • 52 percent of respondents said Internal IT departments will be most important to helping firms achieve success. External or outsourced service providers are also key, with one-third of respondents stating outsourced providers of managed IT services and external technology consultants (systems integrators, value added resellers or application developers) as most important in achieving IT objectives.

“The fact that SMBs continue to remain positive despite the current economic downturn is no surprise as they truly are the cornerstone of business across the globe with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and great determination to succeed,” said Ken Giffin, director of marketing strategy for Verio. “We have already begun to see an uptick in SMBs that are managing their business more efficiently through the use of technology and are aggressively expanding into new markets via their online presence. This study further supports the fact that SMBs are resilient, more nimble than their enterprise counterparts and remain confident in their ability to achieve great success.”

To receive a complimentary copy of Understanding Growth Priorities of SMBs, visit www.verio.com/eiu.

About the survey
In April 2009 the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted an online survey of 328 executives from small and medium-sized businesses worldwide to understand how they are approaching business strategy during the global recession. Of the respondents to our survey, 45 percent held CEO, president or managing director titles; 66 percent of all respondents held c-level titles. About 27 percent were directors, department heads and other managers. Worldwide, 29 percent work at companies based in North America, 29 percent in Asia-Pacific, 19 percent in Western Europe, 10 percent in Eastern Europe, 9 percent in the Middle East and Africa, and 5 percent in Latin America. Forty eight percent work at firms with less than $5M in annual revenues; 31 percent have revenues between $5M and $50M; 21 percent have revenues between $50M and $50M. Respondents represented a range of industries.

About the Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through our global network of more than 650 analysts and contributors, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in more than 200 countries. As the world’s leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.

About Verio Inc. (www.verio.com)
Verio is the leading provider in delivering innovative online business solutions to SMBs worldwide. Verio's solutions provide Cloud, web hosting, managed services, application hosting and SaaS that enables SMBs to drive online success. Verio is a subsidiary of NTT Communications and supports its operations with their highly reliable and scalable Global Tier-1 IP Network. Through this network, Verio provides partners and customers with access to business solutions in more than 120 datacenters worldwide. For more information, join us on Twitter @Verio, Facebook Verio or www.verio.com.

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