Facts & Resources

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

Fall Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Finds Local Optimism Heading Into 2014

Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:00 am EST



Public Company Information:

"We’re encouraged that Chicago small business owners are feeling optimistic about the upcoming year, about both revenue and staffing projections"

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 Chicago, found that three in 10 (30 percent) Chicago respondents plan to hire over the next 12 months. Yet close to half (46 percent) say finding qualified employees is difficult.

Of those small business owners who plan on hiring new talent in 2014, approximately one-third (34 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 Chicago take to retain employees are offering a competitive salary (57 percent), flexible working arrangements (50 percent), and bonuses for high performers (44 percent).

Almost half of Chicago small business owners (45 percent) agree that managing their staff is a source of great pride for them. But three out of five (60 percent) admit to having some level of frustration with their employees. The top frustrations are poor time management (28 percent), lack of proactive thinking (22 percent) and lack of enthusiasm (18 percent).

“We’re encouraged that Chicago small business owners are feeling optimistic about the upcoming year, about both revenue and staffing projections,” said Jay Miller, regional sales executive at Bank of America. “By listening to their needs, our local small business experts are better equipped to address the challenges our clients face, whether it be providing the right tools to manage cash flow more effectively, or helping them secure a loan so they have the capital they need to grow.”

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

Chicago small business owners are optimistic about their year ahead, but continue to have concerns
Small business owners feel optimistic about the future of their businesses. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed in Chicago expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months.

In addition, the report found that only 36 percent of Chicago small business owners believe their local economy will improve over the next 12 months, and share equally low confidence about the national economy. Only about one in three (34 percent) of Chicago respondents think that the national economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to 41 percent nationally.

Seven in 10 (70 percent) Chicago small business owners are concerned about health care costs over the next 12 months, and 76 percent are concerned about the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders. Other concerns that may affect the success of their business in the next 12 months include:

  • Commodities prices (e.g., oil, gas) – 65 percent.
  • Consumer spending – 60 percent.
  • Strength of the U.S. dollar – 58 percent.
  • Corporate tax rates – 58 percent.
  • Interest rates – 56 percent.

Despite concern about health care costs, nearly three in five (57 percent) Chicago small business owners say their hiring plans will not change in the next year due to new health care legislation. In addition, only 29 percent of Chicago 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 Chicago think Black Friday has little or no impact on their bottom line, and more than nine in 10 (92 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 Chicago small business owners as less than a quarter (23 percent) report working longer hours during the holidays.

Chicago small business owners are generous when thanking their employees during the holidays. The most popular perks planned for this holiday season are:

  • Hosting a holiday party – 47 percent.
  • Giving gifts – 47 percent.
  • Closing the office during holidays – 42 percent.
  • Awarding salary bonuses – 36 percent.
  • Offering flexible working hours during the holidays – 33 percent.

Only 15 percent do not intend to offer holiday-related perks this year, equivalent with the 14 percent of small business owners 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 Illinois. Through September of this year, Bank of America has extended more than $216 million in new credit across Illinois to small businesses – an increase of seven 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.

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Reporters May Contact:
Diane Wagner, Bank of America, 1.312.992.2370