Nearly nine in 10 small-business owners would still choose entrepreneurship over working for others according to a new survey commissioned by Microsoft Office Live Small Business and Elance.

REDMOND, Wash. - Jan. 14, 2009 - 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.

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 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 efforts.

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 revealed.

“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 five countries: U.S., U.K., 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® 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.

# # #

Elance and the Elance logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Elance, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Media Contact:

Emily Call Borders
Borders+Gratehouse
Phone: 415-963-4174
Email: emily@bordersandgratehouse.com