Small-business owners, particularly members of the Millennial generation (ages 18 to 34), are more confident in the future of the local and national economies, according to the fall 2014 Small Business Owner Report, released by Bank of America.
The study, which is based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. small-business owners, found that half of the respondents believe their local economy will improve over the next 12 months, up from 45 percent a year ago. What's more, 45 percent believe the national economy will improve in the same period, up from 41 percent a year ago.
Small-business owners believe they will be ending the year on a good note, with more than three-quarters (77 percent) expecting to achieve their year-end revenue goals.
Millennials are the most optimistic, with 93 percent believing they will meet their targets, compared with 80 percent of Gen-Xers and 73 percent of Boomers.
While more than half (58 percent) of Boomer-age (50- to 68-year-old) small-business owners give themselves an "A" or "B" when asked to grade the tech their savviness or that of their businesses, Millennial and Gen-X business owners rate their tech savviness significantly higher.
Overall, 85 percent of Millennials gave themselves an A or B, and 74 percent of Gen-Xers graded themselves an A or B.
Across all three generations, small-business owners agree that technology allows them to feel more in control of their businesses.
When asked about technology as it relates to managing the day-to-day aspects of their businesses, 58 percent of survey respondents said it allows them to feel more in control, and 71 percent believe that technology saves them time.
"As expected, the millennial generation that grew up with smartphones and laptops is embracing technology at a faster rate than their older peers," Bank of America spokesperson Robb Hilson told eWEEK. "However, a strong majority of all small-business owners have incorporated some type of digital technology into their day-to-day business practices.
"The number of small-business owners who are using digital security software and providing employees with laptops or smartphones is pretty even across the board. Millennials and Gen-Xers say they are regularly using social media, creating or using apps, and using video conferencing," he continued.
However, Millennials are most likely to embrace the cloud and are replacing cash registers with tablets or cloud-based point of sale (POS) solutions at a higher rate than older entrepreneurs, Hilson said.
Small-business owners in Los Angeles and Miami were most optimistic about their local economy and staffing prospects, with 62 percent of respondents in Los Angeles saying they are confident that their local economy will improve over the next 12 months, followed by Miami at 59 percent.
More than half of small-business owners in Los Angeles (58 percent) and Miami (55 percent) plan to hire more employees in the next year.
About three-quarters of small-business owners in Atlanta (76 percent), Los Angeles (75 percent) and San Francisco (75 percent) are most likely to give themselves an "A" or "B" when asked to grade their tech savviness or that of their businesses.
"Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta are growing tech hubs where residents are adopting technology on a personal level," Hilson said. "As these cities are driven by innovation, new technology spreads to the small-business community quickly. However, it's not just these cities. Small-business owners all across the country are becoming increasingly confident in their tech-savviness, which is making a positive impact on their business."