Facts & Resources

Boston Small Business Owners Say Finding and Retaining Talent Is Challenging, but Critical for Success

Fall Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Finds Boston Less Optimistic About the Economy Than Rest of Country

Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:00 am EST



Public Company Information:

"Boston small business owners are optimistic about their own success, linking their future prosperity to keeping and hiring the right talent"

Bank of America today released its fall 2013 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 in Boston, found that almost three in 10 (28 percent) Boston respondents plan to hire over the next 12 months. Yet close to half (45 percent) say finding qualified employees is difficult.

Of those small business owners who plan on hiring new talent in 2014, a quarter (26 percent) are staffing up for an increase in business. With good talent difficult to find and small business owners looking to increase business, they are also focused on keeping valuable employees. The report found that the top actions small business owners in Boston take to retain employees are offering flexible work arrangements (47 percent), a competitive salary (45 percent), and bonuses for high performers (39 percent).

Nearly four in 10 Boston small business owners (38 percent) agree that managing their staff is a source of great pride for them. But about half (49 percent) admit to having some level of frustration with their employees. The top frustrations are lack of proactive thinking (20 percent), poor time management (17 percent), and lack of accountability (15 percent).

For more information on small business owners’ talent needs, click here.

“Boston small business owners are optimistic about their own success, linking their future prosperity to keeping and hiring the right talent,” said Anna Colton, Boston-based small business banker national sales executive for Bank of America. “Across Massachusetts, our bankers are listening to small business owners, ensuring they have the guidance and support to be successful in 2014.”

Boston small business owners remain optimistic about the year ahead, but continue to have concerns
Small business owners feel optimistic about the future of their businesses – but not as optimistic as this time last year. Almost half (47 percent) of those surveyed in Boston expect their revenue to increase in the next twelve months, a ten percent decrease from 2012.

In addition, the report found that almost one-third (30 percent) of Boston small business owners believe their local economy will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 45 percent nationally. However, they are not quite as confident about the national economy. Only 28 percent of Boston respondents think that the national economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to 41 percent nationally.

Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of Boston small business owners are concerned about the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders over the next 12 months and 66 percent are concerned about health care costs. Other concerns that may affect the success of their business in the next 12 months include:

  • Corporate tax rates – 61 percent.
  • Commodities prices (e.g., oil, gas) – 58 percent.
  • Strength of the U.S. dollar – 55 percent.
  • Consumer spending – 48 percent.
  • Interest rates – 48 percent.

Despite concern about health care costs, more than half (52 percent) of Boston small business owners say their hiring plans will not change in the next year due to new health care legislation. In addition, only 25 percent of Boston small business owners currently provide health/wellness benefit packages, consistent with national levels (27 percent).

For more information on small business owners’ 2014 outlook, click here.

Holidays are “business as usual” for many small businesses
Nine out of 10 (91 percent) small business owners in Boston think Black Friday has little or no impact on their bottom line, and 89 percent think Cyber Monday is similarly overhyped.

Maintaining a work-life balance during the last months of the year does not appear to be an issue for many Boston small business owners as only one-third (33 percent) report working longer hours during the holidays.

Boston small business owners are generous when thanking their employees during the holidays. The most popular perks are:

  • Awarding salary bonuses – 47 percent.
  • Hosting a holiday party – 46 percent.
  • Giving gifts – 37 percent.
  • Offering flexible work hours during the holidays – 36 percent.
  • Closing the office during holidays – 35 percent.

Only 16 percent do not intend to offer holiday-related perks this year, consistent with 14 percent of small business owners who said that last year.

For more information on small business owners’ holiday outlook, click here.

Bank of America has continued to lend actively to small businesses across the U.S. and Massachusetts. Through September of this year, Bank of America has extended more than $254 million in new credit across Massachusetts to small businesses – an increase of 33 percent over the same period last year. This 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 an in-depth look at the attributes of the nation’s small business owners, read the entire fall 2013 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. An infographic with highlights of the report can be found here.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Braun Research conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey by phone between September 12 and October 3, 2013, on behalf of Bank of America. Braun contacted a nationally representative 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, 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 the margin of error for the oversampled markets is +/ 5.7 percent, with both reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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.

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. We serve approximately 51 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,200 retail banking offices and approximately 16,200 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 14 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 more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Visit the Bank of America newsroom for more Bank of America news.

© 2013 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.


Reporters May Contact:
T.J. Crawford, Bank of America, 1.646.855.3301