SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Scott Bampton, Greg Ness, Elizabeth White, Glenn Rossman, Pat Romanski

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The greater good gets small business owners thinking big

Ninety percent of SBOs feel there are rewards to social responsibility that transcend financial impacts

MARKHAM, ON, March 31, 2014 /CNW/ - Small business owners (SBOs) are not only actively prioritizing social responsibility but they are incorporating into their ongoing business plan. While SBOs are often perceived to be time-poor and lacking the resources or mindshare to fully invest in anything outside their day-to-day operations, they actually tend to be community-driven by nature.

The quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor reveals an overwhelming 92 per cent of SBOs feel a sense of responsibility to give back to their community. More than a sense of accountability, many consider it a unique privilege to contribute to the community, with 86 per cent of SBOs admitting it is one of the rewards of being a small business owner. In fact, 87 per cent admit that even if they don't see financial gain, it is worth it for them to help create a healthy, thriving community.

"It appears that a large percentage of business owners are as passionate about being a part of a community as they are about their business," said Athena Varmazis, VP and General Manager of Small Business Services, American Express Canada. "It's impressive and inspiring to see SBOs take a stand and prioritize community in an effort to become more socially responsible."

Social responsibility helps drive customer loyalty

Social responsibility appears to have become increasingly top of mind for Canadian consumers and business owners have taken notice. Over one third (34%) of small business owners report that being socially responsible helps attract and retain a loyal client base. Perhaps more importantly, 69 per cent of small business owners say one of the benefits of social responsibility is that it creates repeat customers.

"Business owners are moved by their customers' passion and use this to fuel community involvement," says Varmazis. "In fact, positive client feedback is their top factor for measuring the success of integrating social responsibility into their business."

SBOs see social responsibility as a long term investment

As small business owners continue to build and evolve their social responsibility strategies, they are identifying new opportunities that arise as a result of their desire to give back.  While focusing on customers is key, they see their social involvement as a win-win for their business from a growth perspective as well as an employee retention tool.

The Monitor shows that one-fifth (20%) of SBOs have experienced growth in their business over the last five years as a result of being socially responsible, and the majority (65%) say it's a result of their involvement with their local communities. Over three-quarters, (77%) of SBOs confirm that being socially responsible attracts like-minded employees.

SBOs continue to have a positive business outlook

Building off of last year's increased optimism in their business outlook, SBOs continue to experience a higher optimism level compared to this time last year.  The increased willingness to take risks also demonstrates a sense of stability from business owners.

Almost half (45%) of SBOs report their business' current financial position has improved, a solid six point increase since May 2013 (39%). More than half (58%) of SBOs remain hopeful about their future financial position, and more than one-fifth (23%) of SBOs are willing to take above average or significant risks for their business in the next six months.

"For the first part of 2014, optimism levels have changed little leaving SBOs with a refreshed and positive attitude towards the outlook of their business," says Varmazis. "Business owners are confident as they plan for the year ahead and are excited for the future."

About the American Express Small Business Monitor
From Between February 11 and February 27 - Rogers Custom Research and Media Insights group conducted an online survey on behalf of American Express Small Business Services with a sample of 530 Canadian small business owners each employing between 2 and 100 people. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4.2 19 times out of 20. In order to ensure the results are representative of the entire population of small business owners in Canada, the data have been statistically weighted for small business by region according to Statistics Canada. Respondents were located across Canada and came from a variety of industries, including health, social services, education, tech, sales and skilled trades. Due to rounding, some results may add to over 100 per cent.

About American Express Small Business Services
American Express Small Business Services (SBS) is dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. SBS supports business owners with exceptional service. We offer tailored products and services that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, cash flow management and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owners can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded line-up of partners. To obtain more information about SBS, visit www.amexforbusiness.ca or www.facebook.com/AmefforBusiness.

SOURCE American Express

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