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

Despite Lingering Economic Concerns, Local Entrepreneurs Plan for a Robust 2016

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 10:00 am EST

Dateline:

BOSTON

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NYSE:
BAC
"Talent is the backbone of any successful business"

Small business owners in the Boston area are overwhelmingly optimistic, 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 Boston and around the country.

Sixty percent of Boston-area small business owners plan to hire in the coming year. This number is more than double what it was two years ago and is the highest since the inception of the report in 2012. Additionally, 70 percent of local businesses plan to grow their business over the next five years, a 13 percentage point spike from last year, and 68 percent are confident their revenue will increase in the coming year, a 12 percentage point jump from a year ago.

Not surprisingly, this expected growth demands more capital. Almost one-quarter (22 percent) of Boston small business owners will apply for a loan in 2016, and over half (55 percent) plan to use that capital to hire more employees.

“Talent is the backbone of any successful business,” said Colleen Matteson, Boston small business banker manager at Bank of America. “As we see time and time again, especially with small business owners in the tight-knit Boston community, hiring the right people is crucial to grow. It’s encouraging to see this investment pay off with so many businesses planning to expand in the coming years.”

Economic confidence is on the rise, despite lingering concerns
In addition to confidence in their businesses, Boston small business owners have increased confidence in their local economy: More than half (52 percent) believe it will improve in the next year, an increase of 8 percentage points from a year ago. Forty-seven percent also predict the national economy will improve (versus 37 percent a year ago). Skepticism remains about the performance of the global economy, with only 31 percent saying it will improve.

Despite these high levels of optimism, when asked about their top concerns, Boston small business owners believe the following factors could potentially impact their businesses over the next 12 months:

  • The possibility of future interest rate hikes (38 percent).
  • The upcoming U.S. presidential election (37 percent).
  • Financial crises in countries abroad [i.e., China and Greece] (31 percent).
  • The possibility of a rising minimum wage (29 percent).

Boston small business owners embrace workplace 2.0
The workplace culture of Boston-area small businesses has shifted in recent years to create environments that are more collaborative, tech-friendly and flexible. For example, most (88 percent) say that changing technology has helped their business and don’t see technology as a threat to headcount. In addition, 79 percent of Boston small business owners say they are very willing to adopt new technologies into their business, with many incorporating new technologies in the past five years, including new payments systems (45 percent) and website optimization (52 percent).

Collaboration is key, with 34 percent saying their workplace has become more focused on teamwork in the past five years. This collaboration is happening even as employers are offering flexibility for their employees, as 41 percent are currently offering their employees the option to telecommute, compared to 29 percent five years ago.

Small business owners are beginning to offer some nontraditional perks as well, including areas to relax and unwind such as nap pods or game rooms (18 percent), office happy hours (15 percent) or the ability to bring your pets to work (13 percent).

Cyber-attacks aren’t a big concern for local entrepreneurs
Boston small business owners are half as likely as their national counterparts to have been a victim of a cybersecurity breach (6 percent, versus 12 percent nationally). However, they are less likely to say they feel prepared for such a breach (54 percent, versus 66 percent nationally). Forty-seven percent of Boston entrepreneurs are concerned about protecting customer data, which is 12 percent lower than the national average.

Bostonians looking forward to a successful year-end
Boston small business owners expect to end the year on a high note: 81 percent say it’s likely they will hit their year-end revenue goal, which is 10 percentage points higher than last year. Many small business owners intend to offer year-end perks to their employees including salary bonuses (47 percent), a holiday party (46 percent) or office closures (43 percent).

When it comes to holiday milestones, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not top considerations for Bostonians when thinking about their business’ bottom line. Sixty percent say Black Friday has no impact on their business’ bottom line (compared to 63 percent a year ago), and 64 percent think Cyber Monday is overhyped and has no significance to their business’ bottom line (compared to 74 percent a year ago).

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 Boston 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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