Summertime means relaxing for many, taking time out from the daily grind to hit the beach. But for small business owners and entrepreneurs, a summer escape isn’t an option. According to a new Manta survey of over 1,200 small business owners, nearly half of those polled say they won’t have time to take a vacation this summer, and almost 60 percent say they’re working more this year than they did last year.

Meanwhile, according to recent research from the Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB), one-third of self-employed persons (small business owners and entrepreneurs) work over 50 hours per week. Moreover, a majority of small business owners (70 percent) say they are not planning to hire any new employees during the summer months – a significant drop since Manta’s 2011 poll, which revealed 57 percent of small business owners were planning to hire.
Manta, an online community dedicated entirely to small business, released the findings today as part of the latest Manta SMB Wellness Index, a quarterly index that highlights key insights on small business hot topics and examines new small business activity. Manta’s data shows new business activity fell 22 percent in the second quarter of 2012, compared to the same time last year, and is down 26 percent year to-date compared to the first half of 2011. The index looks at multiple business resources nationwide and takes the “pulse” of small business owners on hot topics.

“The current economic conditions are putting a strain on all businesses, particularly SMBs, that often times need to do more with less,” said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta. “Manta is committed to helping small business owners thrive, especially in difficult times, by giving them the resources they need to connect with customers and prospects, and grow their business in creative and cost effective ways.”

Mobile Mania

While summer vacation isn’t a reality for many SMBs, those that can get away say they will still be working, thanks to their mobile device. Seven in 10 small business owners will be checking email/work documents from their mobile device while on vacation; however, 60 percent say they can enjoy their vacation more because of their mobile device and business applications.

“As a small business owner, I don’t have the luxury to ever really shut off from my business,” said Terry Benton, owner of Louisiana-based Terry’s Fabric Cottage. “While it can sometimes be a double-edged sword, my mobile device allows me to stay connected so I can enjoy time away from the office.”

Even when small business owners are in the office, they’re still on their mobile device. One in four small business owners say they access apps on their mobile device for business two to three times every day. And nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) say they use their mobile device while they’re at work in front of their computer – 54 percent say it’s because they check personal emails/texts from their phone, while 17 percent say it’s because their email comes in faster on their device and more than one in 10 admit it’s because they are simply addicted to checking their phone.

But despite the mobile craze, small business owners still prefer traditional methods of communication when working with customers and partners. More than half of small business owners (57 percent) say they most often communicate with customers via phone or in-person, and 53 percent use those methods to connect with vendors and partners.

“While mobile technology is enabling small business owners to stay connected no matter where they are, SMBs set themselves apart by adding that personal touch to their relationships with customers and partners,” added Springer.