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Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

Fall 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

The Bank of America Small Business Owner Report is a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. This iteration of the report explores the evolving small business landscape, including economic optimism, growth expectations, the impact of family, friends and communities, sources and lifecycle of funding, and holiday 2016 outlook.

The fall 2016 report found that small business owners rely on their family and friends for financial, emotional and/or operational support. Support from family, friends and local communities has proven to be a bright spot in an otherwise challenging business environment. While optimism in the economy is improving, it remains low. Additionally, the report found that revenue expectations and growth plans are holding steady.

Key insights from the fall 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report include:

Small business owners are getting by with a little help from their family, friends and community

  • Thirty-eight percent have received financial gifts or loans from family or friends to fund their business.

  • Fifty-three percent rely on family to serve at least one important role in their business, including: partner or co-owners, employee or strategic advisor.

  • Sixty-two percent report that residents in their community actively support local businesses, and 47 percent say their local community plays an important role in the success of their individual enterprise.


Small business owners are lukewarm on the economy, revenue, growth and hiring

  • Fifty-two percent of small business owners expect their revenue to increase, and one-quarter (25 percent) plan to hire more employees within the next year.

  • Fifty-five percent plan to grow their business over the next five years.

  • Thirty-seven percent expressed confidence that their local economy will improve over the next 12 months; 31 percent said the same of the national economy.

  • Three-quarters reported concern over the impact of health care costs, and 64 percent are concerned over the effectiveness of the U.S. government.


Small business owners report shifting sources of capital over the lifetime of their business

  • As their businesses were getting off the ground, the top funding resources for small business owners were: personal savings (76 percent), personal credit cards (36 percent), bank loans (25 percent) and family and friends (21 percent).

  • Once established, the top resources are: bank loans (43 percent) and personal credit cards (42 percent), but only 7 percent rely on support from family and friends.


Small business owners expect to hit year-end revenue targets, but fewer are offering holiday perks than in years past.

  • Sixty-eight percent of small business owners expect to hit year-end revenue targets.

  • Fifty-one percent of entrepreneurs in the retail, consumer products and wholesale industries expect to generate more holiday revenue this year than they did in 2015.

  • Seventy-two percent plan to offer at least one perk to employees this holiday season, but to make these perks possible, 37 percent say they will have to make some kind of sacrifice.


About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey for fall of 2016 online between August 7 and October 4, 2016 using pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national sample of 1,000 small business owners in the United States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees. In addition, small business owners were surveyed in 10 target markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. A total of 300 small business owners were surveyed in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and 100 small business owners were surveyed in Houston. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue and region.


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For More Information

For more information about the Small Business Owner Report, please contact Don Vecchiarello, Bank of America, 1.980.387.4899.

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