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Atlanta Is Open for Business: Bank of America Survey Finds Hiring Among Atlanta Small Business Owners Is on the Rise

Despite Lingering Economic Concerns, Local Entrepreneurs Plan for Robust Growth in 2016

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 10:00 am EST

Dateline:

ATLANTA

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NYSE:
BAC
"The optimism we’re seeing among Atlanta small business owners is incredible"

Small business owners in Atlanta are overwhelmingly optimistic and planning for growth, according to the fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners in Atlanta and around the country.

Sixty-six percent of Atlanta small business owners plan to hire in the coming year – an impressive 40 percentage point spike from two years ago and the highest number since the inception of the report in 2012. With increased headcount comes optimism about revenue: More than seven in 10 entrepreneurs (73 percent) expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, an increase of 20 percentage points from two years ago.

Not surprisingly, this expected growth demands more capital. One-third (33 percent) of Atlanta small business owners are planning to apply for a loan in 2016, compared to only 19 percent a year ago.

“The optimism we’re seeing among Atlanta small business owners is incredible,” said Dean Bird, Atlanta small business banker manager at Bank of America. “You can feel the excitement all over the metro Atlanta area as business owners are finally climbing out of the Great Recession. We look forward to helping our small business clients continue this momentum in 2016.”

Economic confidence is on the rise, despite lingering concerns
In addition to the optimism surrounding their businesses, Atlanta small business owners are more confident in the overall economy: More than half (52 percent) believe the national economy will improve in the next year, an increase of 17 percentage points from a year ago. Fifty-eight percent also predict the local economy will improve (compared to 50 percent a year ago). Skepticism remains on the performance of the global economy, with only 38 percent saying it will improve.

When asked about their concerns, Atlanta small business owners believe the following factors could potentially impact their business over the next 12 months:

  • The upcoming U.S. presidential election (39 percent).
  • The possibility of future interest rate hikes (35 percent).
  • The possibility of a rising minimum wage (33 percent).
  • Financial crises in countries abroad [i.e., China and Greece] (25 percent).

Atlanta small business owners embrace workplace 2.0
Atlanta-area small businesses have shifted in recent years to create workplace environments that are more collaborative, tech-friendly and flexible. In fact, 90 percent of Atlanta entrepreneurs say that changing technology has helped their business. Additionally, the majority (81 percent) of local business owners are willing to adopt new technologies into their business, with many introducing new technologies in the past five years, including new payments systems (50 percent), inventory tracking (39 percent) and mobile apps (20 percent).

Atlanta small business owners are also embracing a different work environment, as 31 percent say they’ve become more focused on teamwork and collaboration in recent years, and one-third (33 percent) say their workplace is more flexible than it was five years ago. Forty-nine percent of local entrepreneurs now offer their employees the option to telecommute, a 10 percentage point jump from five years ago.

Small business owners are beginning to offer nontraditional perks to employees as well, including areas to relax and unwind, such as nap pods or game rooms (18 percent), the ability to bring pets to work (15 percent) or office happy hours (14 percent).

Cybersecurity raises concerns; Atlanta small business owners preparing
In Atlanta, more than one in 10 (13 percent) small business owners have already fallen victim to a cybersecurity breach and an additional 62 percent are concerned about the security of their customers’ proprietary data. In order to better protect their systems from the threat of a cyber-attack, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of small business owners are upgrading their technology at least once a year. As a result, more than three in five (61 percent) Atlanta-area small business owners feel prepared for a cybersecurity breach.

Expectations high for year-end
Atlanta small business owners expect to end the year on a high note: 82 percent say it’s likely they will hit their year-end revenue goal, compared to 76 percent last year. Additionally, many small business owners intend to offer year-end perks to their employees such as salary bonuses (49 percent), office closures (42 percent) or a holiday party (39 percent).

When it comes to holiday milestones, the majority of local business owners continue to state that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a minimal impact on their business’ bottom line, though they are becoming stronger revenue drivers for some businesses. Forty-two percent of Atlanta entrepreneurs say Black Friday has an impact on their business’ bottom line – an 8 percentage point jump from one year ago. Similarly, 40 percent of small business owners reported that Cyber Monday has an impact on their business’ bottom line, compared to 31 percent in fall 2014.

For an in-depth look at the attributes of the nation’s small business owners, read the full fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, and for additional insights from small business owners in Atlanta and across the country, download the Small Business Owner Report local insights infographic here.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Braun Research, Inc. conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey by phone from August 21 through September 22, 2015, on behalf of Bank of America. Braun contacted a nationally representative 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. In addition, 300 small business owners were surveyed in each of 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; the margin of error for the oversampled markets is +/- 5.7 percent, reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

The Braun Research survey results conducted on behalf and for the exclusive use 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.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's leading 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 approximately 47 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,700 retail financial centers, approximately 16,100 ATMs, and award-winning online banking with 32 million active users and more than 18 million mobile 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 approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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