A recent survey of 1,794 small business owners revealed expected—and unexpected—results, some of which can help you find ways to better competitively position your business in the coming months and years.

The first finding that surprised me is that well over half the respondents were women: 57 percent. Only 39 percent said they were male and 4 percent declined to identify their gender. The respondents also reflect the generational evolution of small business owners. Baby Boomers only accounted for 24 percent of respondents. Gen-Xers accounted for more than half—54 percent—and Millennials came in at 18 percent. Millennials are beginning to enter the scene as Baby Boomers are bowing out.

We’ve been promoting the fact that current economic conditions are ripe for expansion and 23 percent of the survey said they want to open a new location. The same percentage noted e-commerce as a business objective.

Are you among these groups? If you aren’t, your competitors may be, and you could soon have a new “neighbor” or you may find yourself outflanked on the Internet. Think about it!

I was surprised to see that 43 percent said that they don’t offer mobile wallet payment options to their customers. This caught me off guard because earlier in the week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said active Apple Pay users more than doubled year over year with total transactions tripling over the same period. And, that’s only the growth of Apple Pay; there are plenty of other players in the game.

How can almost half of small business owners be sitting out this consumer movement?

Here’s what’s going to happen: Among consumers, mobile wallet payments are going to evolve from being a nice feature to being a required offering for businesses and if you haven’t established your business as mobile-wallet friendly, you may not be able to change your image quickly enough.

Don’t be left waving goodbye to the bandwagon as it rolls out of town.

Top business goals were not very surprising. Almost 90 percent said increasing sales is their key business goal over the next three years. Marketing performance improvement was cited by 32 percent and 29 percent said they wanted to improve their in-store customer experience.

The interesting thing about those three points is that if owners improve their marketing and customer experience, they will in turn increase sales.

One last statistic caught my eye: 66 percent said that other business owners were the resources they rely on most to run a better business.

I think that says a lot about how small business owners support each other and realize that they are most profitable as individual owners when they are strong as a group. Having vacant storefronts on Main Street, or empty commercial space across town is never a good thing.

SOURCESusan Solovic
Susan Solovic
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com and USA Today bestselling author, and attorney. She was the CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com—small business television—a company she grew from its infancy to a million dollar plus entity. She appears regularly as a featured expert on Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and can be seen currently as a small business expert on the AT&T Networking Exchange website. Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College and the Advisory Boards for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University as well as the Fishman School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College.