Small-Business Owners Stressed but Optimistic

Small-business owners have faith in their local economies and are optimistic about growth, but still really stressed out, a Bank of America survey indicates.

A survey of small-business owners by Bank of America suggests running a small business is more stressful than raising a child or managing a relationship with a significant other, but the study also found that optimism and plans to hire are strong among business owners.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of those surveyed said they expect to expand their workforce in the next 12 months. In the next year, 42 percent said they expect their own local economic conditions to improve, compared with 35 percent who say the national economy will get healthier.

Among those small businesses planning to hire, owners expect to increase the number of employees by 25 percent on average. Overall, 61 percent of respondents forecast a revenue increase for their business, and 32 percent projected revenue would remain the same.

Small-business owners are also more focused on their local economy and individual decisions than the general health of the U.S. economy, the survey indicated. Indeed, 69 percent view their local economy as very important to their business€™ success, and 53 percent state that their own decisions are more likely to influence business outcomes. The sentiment was particularly high among younger small-business owners, the survey found.

€œWe know how much small-business owners give up to make their businesses successful, but despite their sacrifices, they are still optimistic about the future,€ Dean Athanasia, preferred and small business executive at Bank of America, said in a prepared statement. €œTherefore, we believe that the financial services industry, the business community and the general public must continue to take steps to support the growth and success of our small-business sector.€

While small-business owners are aware that marketing is a key driver of growth, and the rise of social media platforms can aid in their expansion, the survey indicated owners aren€™t taking full advantage of the opportunity. Only 38 percent of businesses use social media to market or promote their business or engage their customer base, and less than half (47 percent) use social media services like Groupon to offer discounts and deals to clients. Nearly two-thirds of survey participants (64 percent) said they wish they took better advantage of technology innovations to help manage or market their business.

In addition to the national survey, 300 small-business owners were also surveyed in nine target markets, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami. In the greater New York City area, 57 percent of respondents said they anticipate an increase in revenue over the next year. Additionally, 28 percent of Metro New York small-business owners said they plan to hire more employees in the year ahead, and 53 percent said they plan to keep their staffing projections consistent.

In the San Francisco market, the survey uncovered that 52 percent of San Francisco small-business owners are confident their local economy will improve in the next 12 months. San Francisco small-business owners are more confident in their local economy than any other market surveyed, the report noted. €œThe report reveals a streak of optimism and slightly greater confidence among San Francisco small business owners when compared with the rest of the nation, but a number of economic factors continue to present challenges,€ Martin Richards, San Francisco market president for Bank of America, said in a statement.