Bank of America Small Business Owner Report

The Bank of America Small Business Owner Report is a biannual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners throughout the U.S. and in 10 major cities.

This iteration of the report explores the evolving small business landscape, including economic outlook and concerns; growth, revenue and hiring expectations; and the impact an increasingly competitive labor market is having on small businesses.

Key insights from the fall 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report include:

Small business owners are poised to end 2018 on a high note. Confidence in the economy, both at the national and local levels, remains strong. Revenue expectations, as well as plans to expand and apply for loans, are up since last fall. In fact, 80 percent of entrepreneurs are confident their 2018 year-end revenue will exceed that of 2017. Further, looking ahead to the next 12 months:

  • Fifty-seven percent of business owners believe their revenue will increase (vs. 51 percent in fall 2017).
  • Sixty-seven percent plan to expand (vs. 59 percent in fall 2017).
  • Twenty-seven percent plan to hire (vs. 16 percent in fall 2017).
  • Fifty-five percent are confident the national economy will improve (vs. 46 percent in fall 2017).
  • Fifty-four percent express similar confidence in their local economies (vs. 48 percent in fall 2017).
  • Fifteen percent intend to apply for a loan (vs. 8 percent in fall 2017).


Hiring plans are on the rise as well, peaking to their highest levels in three years. This surge, however, brings a new challenge to the forefront: finding and retaining talent in one of the most competitive job markets in half a century. According to the study:

  • Twenty-seven percent of business owners plan to hire in the year ahead (vs. 16 percent in fall 2017).
  • Among those who sought to hire this year, 50 percent say the tightening labor market had a direct impact on their ability to find and hire qualified candidates.
  • Twenty-four percent had at least one employee leave, with 11 percent losing 10 percent or more of their workforce.


Many entrepreneurs are modifying their hiring strategies to better compete within the current job market, while also making a case for the unique benefits that come with working at a small business. The top three tactics business owners are using to find and recruit top talent are:

  • Shifting to a more flexible work culture (25 percent).
  • Using social media (23 percent).
  • Offering higher salaries (17 percent).


When comparing themselves to larger companies, the top three distinct advantages that entrepreneurs say working at a small business offers to current and potential employees include:

  • Less bureaucracy (61 percent).
  • More collaborative environment (59 percent).
  • Greater responsibility (50 percent).

 

In correlation with positive business forecasts, concern over many economic issues has abated. While health care costs continue to top the list of small business worries, concern about this issue has dropped to its lowest level in six years. Similarly, anxiety over corporate taxes has reached a new low, decreasing significantly from this time last year.

  • Sixty-three percent of business owners identify health care costs as a top economic concern (vs. 72 percent in fall 2017).
  • Forty-three percent identify a more aggressive U.S. trade policy as an economic concern, with 36 percent saying the latest tariffs/U.S. trade policies have impacted their businesses.
  • Thirty-seven percent identify corporate tax rates as a burdensome issue nearly a year after the enactment of U.S. tax reform (vs. 51 percent in fall 2017).

 

Report Methodology

GfK Social and Strategic Research conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Survey for fall 2018 online between August 30 and September 13, 2018 using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national sample of 1,067 small business owners in the United States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between two and 99 employees. In addition, a total of approximately 300 small business owners were also surveyed in each of ten target markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue and region.

Prior to 2016, waves of the Small Business Owner Report Survey were conducted by telephone, and while best efforts were made to replicate processes, differences in sample, weighting and method suggest caution when making direct statistical comparisons of the results from pre-2016 and post-2016.


News Releases and Additional Information

Press Releases

 

Fall 2018 Small Business Owner Report Regional Press Releases
     -   Atlanta       -   Los Angeles
  -   Boston   -   Miami
  -   Chicago   -   New York City
  -   Dallas/Forth Worth   -   San Francisco (Bay Area)
  -   Houston   -   Washington, D.C.

 

 

Spring 2018 Small Business Owner Report Regional Press Releases
    -   Atlanta      -   Los Angeles
  -   Boston   -   Miami
  -   Chicago   -   New York City 
  -   Dallas/Fort Worth   -   San Francisco (Bay Area)
  -   Houston   -   Washington, D.C.

 

 

Fall 2017 Small Business Owner Report Regional Press Releases
           -   Atlanta                  -   Los Angeles   
  -   Boston   -   Miami
  -   Chicago   -   New York City
  -   Dallas/Fort Worth   -   San Francisco (Bay Area)
  -   Houston   -   Washington, D.C.

 

 


Presentation and Materials

[Note: If you experience document loading issues in Internet Explorer 11, please open the link in a different browser (e.g., Chrome, Safari, Firefox).]

Mar. 5, 2019 — 2019 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight
Mar. 5, 2019 — 2019 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (Spanish)

Dec. 3, 2018 — Fall 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Dec. 3, 2018 — Fall 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic

May 1, 2018 — Spring 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic (local findings)
Apr. 26, 2018 — Spring 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Apr. 26, 2018 — Spring 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic

Mar. 7, 2018 — 2018 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight
Mar. 7, 2018 — 2018 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (Spanish)

Nov. 14, 2017 — Fall 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic (local findings)
Nov. 7, 2017 — Fall 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Nov. 7, 2017 — Fall 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic (national)

Aug. 30, 2017 — 2017 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight

May 2, 2017 — Spring 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic (local findings)
Apr. 27, 2017 — Spring 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Apr. 27, 2017 — Spring 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Infographic (national)


Executive Biographies

Sharon Miller, Small Business executive, Bank of America


For More Information

For more information about the Small Business Owner Report, please contact Don Vecchiarello, Bank of America, 1.980.387.4899.