Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks with designer, Nica Annette Rabinowitz during her tour of the Manufacture New York facility in Brooklyn.


First Lady Michelle Obama said to Oprah Winfrey in her last sit-down interview recently, “We’re feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary — it’s a necessary concept[…]What else do you have if you don’t have hope?” According to Yelp’s 2017 small business pulse survey results, hope is persisting, albeit from unexpected sources.

The Yelp Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research, which polled 1,191 Yelp-listed small businesses during a 10-day period in early December 2016. The results revealed a sense of optimism — 68 percent of respondents felt their business performance met or exceeded expectations last year. The report said, “Nearly 90 percent of small businesses expect their business’ revenue will grow in 2017 by an average of 31 percent.”

Millennials, minorities and female business owners were the most optimistic about the coming year. It pays (ish) to be a bright, young thing, the results suggested. On average, Millennials projected over 69 percent more revenue growth than older business owners. Minority-owned businesses projected a 42 percent increase in revenue compared to 28 percent for white-owned businesses. Female business owners expect a projected average of 33 percent revenue increase compared to 30 percent projected increase by male business owners.

Business owners in whole are getting down with data and networking for profits in 2017 — the top three most desired resources that would assist in developing businesses all rely on bridging gaps in professional communities and digital marketing strategies. The top three resources that respondents said would help them build business were networking groups (43 percent), local chambers of commerce (27 percent) and local representatives from digital marketing companies (25 percent).

You’re only as good as your last performance, or in this case, review. Business owners are tuned into the importance of customer feedback — 96 percent of respondents shared they collect customer feedback in some capacity. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that the survey was hosted by Yelp. However, the reliance of feedback ranges depending on the industry.

As services like Yelp and TripAdvisor have permeated the food and hospitality service it’s unsurprising that reliance on these sites by the category’s business owners are the highest. “Eighty-two percent of restaurant and food service collect feedback from online review sites,” the report said. Retail and brand owners have some catching up to do — 63 percent of these business owners collect feedback from online review sites. In the age of all things personalized and mobile, retail business owners would benefit vastly from improving customer engagement and communication.

The presidential race left the nation in a state of uncertainty — small business owners were left wondering about the future of unions, trade agreements and foreign manufacturing policies. According to the survey results, 35 percent of business owners felt the 2016 political climate had a negative impact on their business. Millennials might be renamed the sunny set — respondents in this demographic “felt the 2106 political climate had a positive effect on their business, while those in 55+ age group felt on average it had a more negative impact,” said the survey results. Interestingly according the survey results, white business owners were 20 percent more likely to say the 2016 political climate had a negative impact on their business than non-white business owners.

If President-Elect Trump sticks to his campaign messaging and brings business back to the U.S., it’d be well advised to take note of what small business owners vocalize as top needs. According to the survey, small business owners feel the most important things that Donald Trump can do to support small businesses are reduce regulatory burden (43 percent), reduce the complexity of the tax code (32 percent), ensure small businesses have access to capital (28 percent), reform the current health-care system (26 percent) and preserve the current minimum wage (16 percent).

Given the president-elect’s departure from his campaign messaging thus far, business owners might be left with hope and not much else. “What else do you pass onto your kids if you don’t have hope?” the First Lady asked.

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