According to the fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small business optimism is at its highest since the survey’s inception in 2012, with expectations for revenue growth and plans to hire hitting a three-year high.
Confidence in the local, national and global economies rose as well, with 62 percent of the 1,001 American small business owners surveyed expressing optimism for their local economies--a 12 percentage point rise year over year.
More than half (56 percent) percent expressed optimism for the national economy, an 11 percentage point rise year over year, and 45 percent expressed optimism for the global economy, a 14 percentage point rise year over year.
"We know the economy has been expanding, especially in Silicon Valley, but I would still say that the level of optimism we found among small business owners was surprising, as it was so much higher than we have seen in years past—increasing by double digits in some cities," David Solis, national sales executive for Bank of America Small Business, told eWEEK.
Small businesses are also adopting a new workplace culture, with 47 percent offering telecommuting options and some non-traditional perks like nap pods and game rooms (20 percent) or pet-friendly work environments (11 percent).
While most small business owners reported a positive impact from the shift to telecommuting options, including a better attitude in employees (59 percent) and increased productivity (54 percent), some respondents expressed concerns that telecommuting makes employees unreliable or inaccessible (34 percent), or harder to trust (33 percent).
In addition, 93 percent say new technology has helped their business; 85 percent are very willing to adopt it into their business, and nearly three-quarters (71 percent) report that they are investing in technology upgrades one or more times per year.
"Small business owners are especially grateful for new technology that makes their day-to-day lives easier, including technology for accepting payments, tracking inventory and optimizing their websites," Solis said. "Many have stated that they’ve adopted these specific technologies in the last five years. And of course, mobility is critical for small business owners to be able to satisfy how so many of their customer and prospects find them and interact with them."
More than one in 10 (12 percent) small business-owners report that they have been the victim of a cyber security breach, and more than half (59 percent) have expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data, with 66 percent reporting they have taken measures to be prepared for a cyber-attack.
Small business-owners across all markets, including Chicago (44 percent), Washington, D.C. (42 percent) and Los Angeles (41 percent), agree with their national counterparts that their workplace has become more tech-focused over the past five years.
In addition, San Francisco (50 percent) and Washington, D.C. (47 percent) small business-owners said they feel that their workplace has become more collaborative.