Small Business Owners’ Confidence Up But Growth Outlook Flat

Small business owners’ outlook on economic conditions is significantly higher today than it was a year ago, according to Bank of America’s fall 2017 Small Business Owner Report. Nearly half of small business owners believe their local economies will improve over the next 12 months (up from 37 percent in 2016) while 46 percent said the national economy will improve over the same timeframe (up from 31 percent last year). Seven in 10 small business owners said they are confident that their year-end revenue will surpass last year’s.

While optimism increased overall, business growth plans remained flat, with just over half saying they plan to grow their business in the next five years and just 16 percent planning to hire more employees in the next 12 months. Revenue growth expectations over the next year also remained relatively unchanged from last year’s survey. Health care costs and corporate tax rates were cited as top economic concerns among entrepreneurs, and 78 percent noted that high taxes affect a business’ decision to downsize.

The survey also examined small business owners’ use of social media and digital tools. Entrepreneurs were split on whether social media contributes to the success of their business, and two-thirds said social media had no effect on their bottom line. When asked which digital tools they used day-to-day, 46 percent said digital banking services, 34 percent said financing account apps, and 32 percent said they use social media.