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Chicago Small Business Owners Continue to Be Optimistic About 2013, Yet Concerns About the Economy Remain

Bank of America Fall 2012 Small Business Owner Report Examines Relationships With Large Businesses, Impact of Black Friday and the Significance of Local Communities

Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:00 am EST

Dateline:

CHICAGO

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NYSE:
BAC
"Our small business clients have told us they need more personal guidance and support from someone who knows their business and their community"

Bank of America today released the fall 2012 Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. The survey, which includes an oversampling of small business owners across the Chicago market, found the majority of Chicago small business owners are planning on sustaining or growing their business over the next 12 months. Specifically, nearly one-third (32 percent) plan on hiring more employees, while 52 percent expect their staffing needs will remain consistent.

In addition, more than half (52 percent) of Chicago’s small business owners surveyed anticipate that revenue will increase in 2013, while 13 percent expect revenue to decline. However, this optimism is tempered by their views on the economy, with only 33 percent of Chicago small business owners confident that their local economy will improve over the next 12 months. Respondents were even less confident in the national (33 percent) and global economies (23 percent) improving in that same period.

The significance of Chicago’s local economy

The study also shows that the local economy has the greatest impact on Chicago’s small business owners. Three in five (60 percent) reported that the majority of their customers come from the local community, compared to 31 percent who indicated that their customers come primarily from outside the local community but within the U.S. Only two percent indicated that the majority of their customers come from outside the U.S.

Additionally, 79 percent of Chicago’s small business owners believe that the local economy plays a significant role in their business. Comparatively, 68 percent believe the national economy plays a significant role, and only 31 percent believe the global economy is significant to their business.

“The success of small business owners in Chicago has an outsized positive impact on our city. As Chicago’s economy continues to grow, we need to help small business owners capitalize on the economic vitality they have helped to create,” said Jay Miller, Central region small business banking sales executive at Bank of America. “Bank of America remains fully committed to supporting small business owners with their financial needs so that they have more time and more confidence to focus on the things that matter most for their business.”

Black Friday has little impact on bottom line

Chicago small business owners see little to no benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Ninety-three percent of Chicago small business owners say that Black Friday has either a minor or no impact on their business’s bottom line, and 81 percent believe Cyber Monday is overhyped and has no significance to their bottom line.

Larger businesses: asset or adversary?

When questioned about their relationship to larger businesses, less than one in five (15 percent) respondents views larger businesses as their biggest competitors. Seventy-five percent indicate they have larger businesses as customers, and 42 percent say that larger businesses motivate them to become better small business owners.

From a competitive perspective, Chicago small business owners cite a number of factors that drive customers to choose them over larger businesses, including customer service (77 percent), reliability/trust (73 percent) and quality (71 percent). More than two in five (41 percent) believe customers choose them because they are local.

Chicago small business owners are well capitalized heading into 2013

Sixty percent of respondents believe they have enough access to capital to run their business effectively, and only 16 percent said that they applied for a business loan over the past year. Despite their optimistic views for growth in the coming year, 73 percent do not intend to apply for a business loan in 2013.

Who small business owners turn to for financial guidance

Only 25 percent of Chicago small business owners describe themselves as “very savvy” regarding financial matters. When seeking advice, they tap into a broad network for help, including accountants/bookkeepers (79 percent), other small business owners (51 percent), financial advisors (49 percent) and friends/family (48 percent).

“Our small business clients have told us they need more personal guidance and support from someone who knows their business and their community,” says Miller. “In response, Bank of America is close to completing the hiring of 1,000 small business bankers across the country, with more than 30 here in Chicago. Through these relationships, Chicago small business owners have greater access to the advice and solutions they need to better manage their deposit, credit and cash management needs.”

Bank of America has continued to actively lend to small businesses across the U.S. and Illinois. Through September, Bank of America has extended $473.6 million in credit across Illinois to small businesses – this includes $201.9 million in new originations, which has helped enable Bank of America to exceed its national small business lending pledge to the White House and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, please read the entire fall 2012 Small Business Owner Report and for additional Chicago-based insights, download the Small Business Owner Report Chicago infographic.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

Braun Research conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey by phone between Sept. 9 and Oct. 7, 2012 on behalf of Bank of America. Braun contacted a nationally representative sample of 1,003 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, 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 margin of error for the national sample is +/- 3.1 percent, and +/- 5.7 percent for the oversampled markets, with both reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving more than 55 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,500 retail banking offices and approximately 16,300 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to more than 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

For more Bank of America news, visit the Bank of America newsroom.

www.bankofamerica.com

The Braun Research 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.

© 2012 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

Contact:

Reporters May Contact:
Diane Wagner, Bank of America, 1.312.992.2370
diane.wagner@bankofamerica.com