This paper examines the effect that the recession has had on the financial behaviour of small businesses and their optimism about the future. The main finding is that the age of the business and the change in its turnover over the preceding year are important determinants of behaviour and attitude. Hence, the conclusion is that these are essential components of any segmentation study, alongside the more commonly used size, sector and region variables. Furthermore, the author believes that the findings from the small business sector can be likened to the life stages used in consumer financial research, and draws a parallel between consumer disposable income and business turnover and profitability. There are similar parallels between new house-owners and new businesses.