Survey: SMBs see growth ahead, focus on cutting costs

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SMBs continue to look ahead at future growth, but a sluggish economy has them looking harder for products that help them reduce costs, according to a new survey conducted by hosted VoIP provider 8x8 (Nasdaq: EGHT).

The survey, which looked at new 8x8 customers who subscribed to the company's VoIP service between May 1 and August 19, showed business customers most concerned about reducing costs, attracting new customers and hiring and affording new employees.

The amount of concern over reducing costs appeared to deepen over the summer, the company said.

More than half (55 percent) of respondents in August indicated they were "more concerned" about business expenses this year than last. By contrast, only 39 percent said they were more concerned in June.

"Managing and keeping up with business growth" was listed as a top concern by nearly one-third of the respondents.

About half of all respondents said they'd switched to 8x8 from their local phone company with the majority expressing concern about reducing expenses as their reason for making the switch. Another 25 percent switched to 8x8 from another VoIP provider.

"Clearly, the economy remains very challenging for small businesses, and they're realizing the need to scrutinize expenses and prepare for growth by making the right choices now," said 8x8 Chairman and CEO Bryan Martin. "We're obviously very pleased that so many of our customers seem confident their business will grow. That's not only good news for us as their communications provider, but also a refreshingly positive perspective on the future of the economy in general."

When asked what influenced their decision to implement 8x8 VoIP phone service in their business, some 62 percent of the new customers surveyed cited overall cost savings, 70 percent cited features, 43 percent cited portability and geographic flexibility and 37 percent cited the convenience of having 8x8 host and maintain the service.

The survey mirrors similar research from Citibank earlier this month that found the majority of small business owners believe they are poised to grow or are already in growth mode. Just less than half (49 percent) said they are "holding their own, but poised to grow when the climate is right" and 28 percent indicated they are already growing. The vast majority (90 percent), however, remain concerned about the economy, including the possibility of a double-dip recession. The results also show an increasing trend in small businesses feeling more prepared to withstand longer-term challenges.

For more:
- see this release

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