Facts & Resources

Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

Spring 2017 Small Business Owner Report

The Bank of America Small Business Owner Report is a biannual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners throughout the U.S. and in 10 major cities. This iteration of the report explores the evolving small business landscape, including economic outlook, business growth expectations, views on health care quality and availability, stressors of owning a business, work-life balance and the importance of innovation.

Key insights from the spring 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report include:

Small business owners are confident about the economy, but cautious about turning plans into action

  • Fifty-two percent are confident the national economy will improve over the next 12 months – up a staggering 21 percentage points from just six months ago.

  • Forty-eight percent expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months (vs. 52 percent in fall 2016).

  • Fifty-six percent plan to grow their business over the next five years, flat from fall 2016.

  • Plans to hire have dipped to their lowest point in five years with 18 percent of small business owners planning to hire in the year ahead, down 7 percentage points from fall 2016.

Economic concerns drop, though health care continues to weigh heavy

  • Concerns over most economic factors have decreased significantly from six months earlier, with the most significant declines showing in:

– Strength of the U.S. dollar (36 percent, down 16 percentage points from fall 2016).
– Stock market (34 percent, down 16 percentage points).
– Health care costs (64 percent, down 11 percentage points).

  • Health care costs continue to be a chief worry for small business owners, driven by both the business cost and individual cost for employees. Forty-two percent report concern over the health care costs their employees must bear.

  • Of small business owners who provide health insurance for employees, 50 percent felt cost increases have worsened in the last five years, compared to just 21 percent who believe they have improved and 29 percent reporting no change.

Despite nightmares and long hours, small business owners are happy with work-life balance

  • Small business owners use a mix of emotions to describe an average work week:

– They say running their business is fulfilling (52 percent), interesting (52 percent) and enjoyable (51 percent).
– However, 47 percent say running their business is demanding, and 30 percent say it is stressful.
– One-quarter of small business owners say they have had a nightmare about their business failing.

  • Despite the fact that a majority of entrepreneurs report putting in more than a standard 40-hour work week, 82 percent say they have achieved a work-life balance.

  • For those who say they have not achieved a work-life balance (18 percent), a combination of reasons are to blame, including:

– Forty-six percent say they have too many administrative tasks.
– Forty-four percent say their customers and/or clients require a lot of individual attention.
– Thirty-eight percent say they do not having the financial resources to hire additional staff.

Entrepreneurs envision a virtual, more automated future

  • When asked for their top predictions about small business 20 years from now, most entrepreneurs envision a virtual and automated future. Top predictions include:

– More offices will be virtual rather than physical locations (49 percent).
– Operations will be conducted by automation (42 percent).
– Businesses will go paperless (42 percent).

  • Many (75 percent) entrepreneurs surveyed say encouraging innovation in the workplace is a priority, and 77 percent say it is a key contributor to business success (compared to 95 percent and 99 percent of entrepreneurs in the tech industry, respectively).

Report Methodology
GfK Public Communications & Social Science conducted the Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report for spring 2017 online between February 21 and March 19, 2017 using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national sample of 1,001 small business owners in the United States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees. Additionally, a total of 300 small business owners were surveyed in 10 target markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. An oversample of 150 interviews was also completed among respondents in the technology and medical/health care fields. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue and region.

Waves of the Small Business Owner Report before 2016 were conducted by telephone, and while best efforts were made to replicate processes, differences in sample, weighting and method suggest caution when making direct statistical comparisons to results from previous years.

News Releases and Additional Information

Press Releases


Presentation and Materials

Executive Biographies


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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