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Recent American Express Survey Reveals Small Businesses' Optimism for 2024 Following a Year of Uncertainty

American Express has recently released its second Amex Trendex: Small Business Edition, which provides insight into the small business sector's outlook for the upcoming year. The report reflects a positive sentiment within the small business community, with a focus on economic optimism, growth ambitions, and the integration of innovative tools such as artificial intelligence (AI).


Gina Taylor Cotter, EVP & GM, Small Business Products & Business Blueprint at American Express, highlighted the resilience and commitment demonstrated by small businesses, even amid uncertain economic conditions: “The data indicates that small businesses are proactively gearing up for a positive 2024, evident in their strategic actions, including hiring initiatives and the adoption of new tools.”


The survey reveals that small businesses are entering 2024 with optimism, having concluded 2023 on a high note. An impressive 85 percent of surveyed small businesses expressed satisfaction with their business's success, and an even higher percentage (86 percent) claimed to have achieved their 2023 business goals. This positive outlook contrasts with the sentiment observed in an August 2023 American Express survey, where 80 percent of small businesses reported a negative impact on their long-term financial confidence due to economic factors.


Small businesses are displaying ambitious growth plans for 2024, with a strong focus on expanding their customer base and workforce. Half of the surveyed small businesses intend to grow or expand in the coming year, with 46 percent excited about gaining new customers and 32 percent aiming to enhance customer retention. Workforce considerations are also of high importance, as 28 percent of all small businesses surveyed have a goal of hiring more employees. Larger small businesses, particularly those with 101-500 employees, reported hiring as a top goal (46 percent). To attract new talent, 57 percent of respondents cited 'providing flexible work options to employees' as their primary strategy in 2024.


Small businesses are embracing artificial intelligence as they embark on 2024. The data indicates that AI ranks among the top business priorities for the largest small businesses surveyed, with 33 percent expressing excitement about its potential. This surpasses enthusiasm for other areas such as product development (25 percent), social media (28 percent), and standing out among competitors (27 percent). The trend observed in the December 2023 Amex Trendex: Small Business Edition, where 41 percent of surveyed small business owners prioritized AI, continues into the latest survey. A third of small businesses anticipate using AI tools in 2024, with a primary focus on advertising (48 percent), marketing (46 percent), and customer service (46 percent).


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