We were thrilled to see the latest numbers from the Institute of Local Self Reliance Independent Business Survey, especially the Arizona-specific numbers. The nationwide results "found that independent businesses experienced solid revenue growth in 2012, buoyed in part by 'buy local first' initiatives and growing public interest in supporting locally owned businesses," and Arizona's business owners expressed similar feelings. The survey was answered by over 100 Arizona independent business owners representing over 8,000 employees and almost every type of industry. A whopping 72% of businesses reported an increase in annual sales in 2012, and 54% reported an increase in 2012 holiday sales. And an incredible 79% of responders believe that Local First Arizona has had some sort of positive impact on their business.
It is also telling that 88% of you reported that the fact that you are a local and independent business matters to your at least some of your customers. It is so important that you are able to message effectively to your customer base that you are a local business, part of this community, and the reasons why supporting local businesses like yourselves are so important.
While these are all great indicators of things to come for our community and economy, responders also reported some significant challenges that have impacted their businesses. Competition from large companies was the top concern, which is something that we are actively trying to remedy with our outreach efforts in the community to give our members a leg up. You also said that you cannot afford to effectively market your business, which is why we have organized some great advertising opportunities offered by local advertisers. It is also important that you use our available tools to market yourself as a local business! Another issue you described running into is difficulty in obtaining loans and capital, and 33% of you said that in the past 2 years, you have needed funds but were not able to secure a loan. We encourage businesses to seek out local banks and credit unions for loan and capital opportunities, as they are the ones that are investing in our businesses and communities here at home.
Thanks to all of the Arizona participants of the survey to help us understand the business climate and what your biggest challenges are. We will continue to work to help alleviate these challenges, and advocate for your needs!