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IPA SBRB Study: Western US Small Businesses Most Confident About Future; Small Businesses in South / Southeast Least Confident According to First IPA SBRB Regional Study


Costs of energy, health care and materials greatest concerns for all owners / managers regardless of location; Increasing revenue, decreasing expenses common goals for 2007.

Buffalo Grove, IL, December 29, 2006 --(PR.com)-- Owners and managers of small businesses in the western states are by far the most confident about prospects for the next 12 months while the near term forecast for the southern and southeastern states is far less confident, according to the latest International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board (IPA SBRB) study released here today.

The most recent IPA SBRB national study produced a 45.9 IPA Small Business Confidence Index (IPA SBCI) for the Western US as compared to an IPA SBCI of 38.2 for the South and Southeastern US. The overall IPA SBCI for all small businesses in the US is 42.7 for the same reporting period.

The poll also reported that small businesses in the Northeastern US had an IPA SBCI of 43.47 while the Midwest was at 42.2.

This is the first time that results for the IPA SBRB poll were reported on a regional basis. The key ingredients for determining the confidence index are attitudes about the direction of the economy, revenue predictions and hiring plans.

Despite the variance in confidence, small business owners were largely in agreement that the most significant issues they are now facing include contending with energy expenses and the continuing increases in the costs of materials as well as health care benefits. The priorities for 2007 are increasing revenue and decreasing expense.

The bullish attitude of small business in the Western US is driven by predictions for revenue growth and increased hiring. More than 63% of the respondents in the west said they believe revenue will be higher in the next 12 months, with 43% indicating it will be higher by 10% or more. Concurrently, 35.5% of these businesses said they will increase hiring in 2007.

Conversely, predictions by businesses in the south and southeast were the most bearish. Their outlook on the economy was the least positive, with only 35.1% saying that they felt it would be better over the next 12 months and slightly less than 57% indicating they expect revenue increases. Only 23.5% said they plan on increasing hiring.

“We know there are strengths in the small business sector and we are hearing about predictions for growth through 2007. However, the most recent poll -- and specifically the regional breakouts -- give all of us a clearer picture about the diversity in attitudes. We now have a benchmark from which to move forward and begin determining critical changes within the regions,” said Gregg Steinberg, President of International Profit Associates, the largest privately-held provider of management consulting and professional services to small and medium-size businesses in North America.

“While the overall national IPA SBCI was 42.7, it showed a boost in confidence of 3.4 points from the 39.3 index reported at the outset of the third quarter,” said Steinberg. “As we have seen from previous years’ polls, end of the year exuberance requires that small businesses be pro-active to transfer optimism into reality.”

The International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board ascertains and reports the opinions of small business owners and managers on a wide variety of topics related to their own businesses as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations.

Participants in the poll provide feedback on significant issues and allow for real-time insight into the state of small businesses nationwide. The universe of participants is developed from among small businesses across the United States. More than 550 small business owners and senior managers participated in this IPA SBRB poll. The IPA SBRB study is a voluntary survey conducted via phone and email. The poll was structured and supervised through an independent resource.

The latest information about the IPA Small Business Research Board can be found at www.ipasbrb.com.

International Profit Associates, Inc. (IPA) is the largest privately-held provider of management consulting services to small and medium-size businesses in North America. IPA and its more than 1,800 professionals offer a wide range of proven and innovative methodologies to help businesses grow and prosper regardless of the economic cycle. IPA either provides directly or through its affiliated companies a comprehensive array of business advisory services, tax and estate planning services or merger, acquisition and other financial advisory services in the United States and Canada. More information about IPA can be found at www.ipa-iba.com.

###

Note to editors: A chart with the results follows

IPA SBRB Q4 SURVEY December 20, 2006
                              National  / Regional Small Business Study (by location)
                              All Areas * Northeast * Midwest * South /     * Mountain /
                                                                                  Southeast       West

Latest IPA SBRB
Small Business             42.7       43.47          42.2          38.2             45.9
Confidence Index 
(IPA SBCI)/
Change From 
Prior Period
(if applicable):             +3.4

1) What do you think the outlook
for the general economy is for the
next twelve months?

Better                          39.0       41.5             37.1          35.1            38.9
Worse                         16.0       18.7             19.7           11.9            17.6
No Change                  45.0       39.8             43.2           53.0            43.5

2) What are your revenue
expectations for the next twelve
months?

Expect increase of
    10% or more           38.5       29.8             42.4            40.0           43.0
Expect increase of
     less than 10%        20.0       27.4             16.8            15.9            20.5
Expect revenue will
     be about the same 26.7       25.0             32.6            35.6            28.0
Expect decrease of
     less than 10%          6.2         7.3               6.1               3.2              4.8
Expect decrease of 
     10% or more            8.6        10.5               2.3              5.3              3.9

3) What are your expectations for
hiring new employees during the
next twelve months?

Increase hiring             31.0       31.7              30.2             23.5           35.5
Decrease work force      9.6       13.8              10.6               6.7             5.6
Remain the same         44.4       42.3              41.9             55.3           48.6
Unsure                         15.0       12.2              17.3             14.5           10.3

4) The issues currently having
greatest impact on your business?
(top 5 by rank)

Energy/Fuel Costs           1          1                    3                  1            Tied 4
Healthcare costs              2          2                    2                  3               1
Economic conditions         3        Tied 3              5                  --            Tied 4
Taxes                           Tied 4     Tied 3              4                  4               --
Cost of materials          Tied 4      --                   --                  --               2
Government regulation    --          --                   --                  5               --
Interest rates                   --          --                   --                 --               3
Other                               --           4                    --                 --               --

5) The most important
priorities for 2007?
(top 4 by rank)

Increase revenue             1            1                  1                   2               1
Reduce expenses             2            2                  2                   1                2
Improve productivity         3           3                   3                   3               3
Upgrade facilities              4           4                   4                   4                4

Copyright 2006 International Profit Associates / IPA SBRB.

The International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board ascertains and reports the opinions of small business owners and managers on a wide variety of topics related to their own businesses as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations. Participants in the poll provide feedback on significant issues and allow for real-time insight into the state of small businesses nationwide. The poll was structured and is supervised through an independent resource using data collected by phone, email and fax from small businesses across the United States.

For more information about this poll, results of previous studies or other matters related to the IPA SBRB, please contact Raymond D. Minkus, (847) 441-4294.
Contact Information
IPA SBRB
Raymond D. Minkus
(847) 441-4294
Contact
www.ipasbrb.com

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