Survey Reveals Entrepreneurial Spirit Still Alive Despite Economic Downturn

January 14, 2009

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Although it is hard to
find positive economic news in today’s headlines, America’s entrepreneurs
appear to be optimistic about 2009. According to a national survey
commissioned by Microsoft Office Live Small Business
(http://www.smallbusiness.officelive.com) and Elance Inc.
(http://www.elance.com), nearly 60 percent of small-business owners believe
that 2009 will be as good or better than 2008, while 37 percent are worried
about 2009 but believe their businesses will weather the current economic
storm. Despite it all — and staying true to their entrepreneurial spirit –
86 percent of business owners state that they are happier running their own
business over working for someone else.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)

This survey was part of a joint effort to connect Office Live Small
Business customers with skilled freelance professionals from the Elance
network through a new service marketplace, available at
http://www.elance.com/p/landing/olsb/buyerpromo.html. Office Live Small
Business customers who hire a qualifying Elance provider for a $250 job can
get a $50 credit to use toward services offered through the Service
Marketplace for their next job.

Conducted by Decision Analyst Inc., the survey also revealed that 61
percent of respondents would continue to spend the same or more on marketing
in 2009. In terms of staffing, just more than half intend to maintain their
current staffing levels, while nearly a third believe they may need to hire
contract or freelance help. Small-business owners surveyed were most likely to
hire freelance workers to help with their Web design, marketing and sales

Although just more than half of the small-business owners interviewed did
not have a Web site, almost two-thirds admitted that having a Web presence is
important to the success of their business. Lack of budget, time and technical
expertise were among the top reasons for not having a Web site, the survey

“There’s no doubt that small businesses are facing some pretty significant
challenges right now, and while belt-tightening is necessary in tough economic
times, staying visible in the marketplace is also absolutely critical,” said

Michael Schultz, director of marketing and product management for Microsoft
Office Live. “A Web site is one of the most effective and economical tools for
connecting with new and existing customers, and setting one up with Office
Live Small Business is fast, easy and free. And now by teaming up with Elance,
our customers have direct access to a large pool of talented, skilled
professionals in a wide range of disciplines, including Web design, who can
help take them to the next level and stay competitive.”

“Small businesses are always striving to get more done with less,” said

Brad Porteus, CMO of Elance. “With the Elance and Microsoft alliance,
businesses constrained by budget, time and particularly lack of Web expertise
can now more easily than ever find the talent they need to boost their Web
presence and get work done.”

About the Study

Six hundred small-business owners responded to the online survey between
Dec. 10 and Dec. 16, 2008
. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus four
percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Data were weighted to be
representative of national U.S. small-business owners.

About Microsoft Office Live Small Business

Microsoft Office Live Small Business is the award-winning service that
offers a complete, affordable set of easy-to-use Internet-based tools that
help small-business owners get online, attract customers and manage their
businesses. Office Live Small Business has more than 1 million customers in
countries such as the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany and Japan. More
information is available at http://www.smallbusiness.officelive.com.

About Elance Inc.

With the largest network of rated and certified technology and creative
experts, Elance helps businesses succeed by providing them flexible access to
specialized talent on-demand to help them get work done. Elance facilitates
the entire work process from hiring to collaboration to payment. Businesses
use Elance to achieve more by delegating work to qualified service
professionals when needed. Service professionals use Elance to get jobs and
make money doing what they do best. The company is privately held and
headquartered in Mountain View, California. For more information, visit Elance
at http://www.elance.com.

About Decision Analyst

Decision Analyst (http://www.decisionanalyst.com) is a leading global
marketing research and marketing consulting firm specializing in advertising
testing, strategy research, new product development and advanced modeling for
marketing decision optimization. The 30-year-old firm delivers competitive
advantage to clients throughout the world in the consumer packaged goods,
telecommunications, retail, technology, medical and pharmaceutical industries.
In addition, Decision Analyst owns and operates the American Consumer
Opinion(R) Online panel, one of the largest consumer opinion panels in the
world — with more than 7 million members.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their
full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

Source: newswire

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