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Small Business Owners put business before health

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite a year filled with economic instability, a majority of small business owners (72 percent) say 2011 was a successful year for their company– and new data shows new business activity saw a boost, too. According to the latest Manta SMB Wellness Index, new business activity was up more than 12 percent in the third quarter of 2011, compared to the same time last year.

The Manta SMB Wellness Index is a quarterly index on the state of small business released by Manta, the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business. The index examines nationwide data collected from multiple business resources and takes a “pulse” of small business owners on hot topics. Manta’s latest survey polled more than 1,000 small business owners about their feelings on the 2011 small business landscape, predictions for 2012 and how their business is impacting their personal well being.

The Manta SMB Wellness Index shows that while new business activity is up year over year, September saw the steepest decline in activity in the past year and half. Moreover, there’s been about a 12.5 percent decrease in new business activity in Q3 compared to Q2. Alaska, Utah and Oregon had the sharpest declines in activity year over year, while Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona had the biggest boost in business activity in Q3, as well as the most gains year over year.

“Thanks to the support from our customers and online tools like Manta that help us reach new markets, we’ve had a successful 2011,” said Sherry Sheppard, owner of i love cupcakes, LLC, based in Largo, FL. “As a small business specializing in a niche industry–gourmet cupcakes–we know that both our community and online tools have helped us leverage innovative ways to reach people, which prove to be critical components for our continued success.”

But that success has come with a price for many small business owners. Almost half of respondents (44 percent) say this year’s business climate has taken a toll on their personal health–one in three say they work out less, 22 percent say they’ve gained weight and 14 percent say they are more short-tempered and argue with family and co-workers. In addition, Manta’s survey found that most small business owners (63 percent) averaged more than 40 hours a week at work, while nearly 1 in 10 report their average work week was upwards of 70 hours.

Luckily, life away from the office has been brighter for small business owners this year; 45 percent say their business has had a positive impact on their personal life. Small business owners say they’re happier (31 percent), have more time for family and friends (15 percent) and even report that their marriages have improved (eight percent).

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the national economy, and while things have been difficult in 2011, we see every day that small business owners are committed and hard-working and don’t take no for an answer,” said Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta. “In fact, our survey shows that 90 percent of small business owners are optimistic about their company’s growth in 2012. Manta is focused on providing small business owners the resources they need to connect, reach new customers and continue their success this year and beyond.”

Looking ahead, 70 percent of respondents think the small business economy will improve next year. That’s not surprising, since a majority of small business owners (62 percent) rank growing their business as their top New Year’s resolution– ahead of improving relationships with their family, working out more and eating healthier.

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