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Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

Spring 2016 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, staffing strategies and attitudes toward the upcoming U.S. elections.

The spring 2016 report found that small business owners expressed increased uncertainty this year, with economic optimism and business growth expectations declining from last year. These shifts in optimism can be tied to small business owners’ concerns about the stock market, health care costs, the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders and the upcoming elections. Additionally, the report found that when it comes to hiring, small business owners value experience over education.

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

Small business owners express increased uncertainty, declining optimism

  • Thirty-eight percent of small business owners expressed optimism in their local economies improving over the next 12 months, and 29 percent said the same about the national economy.

  • Fifty-one percent expect their revenue to grow over the next 12 months, compared to 63 percent one year ago.

  • Fifty-five percent plan to grow their business over the next five years – a double-digit decline year-over-year.

  • Fifty-nine percent have no plans to hire over the next 12 months, compared to 46 percent in spring 2015.

Concerns over the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders, health care costs and the stock market

  • Small business owners expressed concern over the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders, peaking at 79 percent, similar to previous election years in 2012 and 2014.

  • Seventy-four percent of small business owners reported a concern that health care will impact their business.

  • Anxiety over the U.S. and/or global stock market has also increased, from 45 percent in spring 2015 to 52 percent in spring 2016.

Upcoming elections impacting business owners

  • Sixty-seven percent report that the U.S. presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat.” More than half say the same about the upcoming congressional elections.

  • One-third of small business owners say they are pessimistic when discussing the effect the election will have on their business, and only 15 percent say they are optimistic.

  • As they prepare to cast their votes, small business owners are taking into account both personal and business considerations; 51 percent report they vote from a balanced perspective.

  • The top issues small business owners take into account when voting are: taxes, health care policy, and economy and job growth.

Experience over education when hiring

  • Forty-nine percent of small business owners report skill level is most important when hiring.

  • Additional factors, in order of importance, include fit with company culture, work experience and education level.

  • Forty percent of small business owners say that a college degree is not important when hiring a candidate.

Small business owners hiring part-time workers

  • Of the small business owners who grew their workforce last year, half chose to bring on part-time workers.

  • Female small business owners (61 percent) were more likely to hire part-time labor than male small business owners (42 percent).


About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Survey for spring 2016 online between March 17 and April 19, 2016, using a 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, a total of 300 small business owners were also surveyed in nine target markets: Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue, and region. Previous waves of the Small Business Owner Report Survey were conducted by telephone. Best efforts were made to replicate processes in sample, weighting, and method.


The GfK survey results conducted on behalf of Bank of America, and interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Always seek the advice of an accountant, attorney or financial advisor with any questions you may have regarding the decisions you undertake as a result of reviewing the information contained herein. Nothing in this report should be construed as either advice or legal opinion.

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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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