Bank of America Survey Finds 63 Percent of Dallas/Fort Worth Small Business Owners Are Still Recovering From the Great Recession

Despite Challenges, Local Entrepreneurs Are Significantly More Optimistic in Their Business Growth Than They Were One Year Ago

Monday, May 4, 2015 9:00 am EDT

Seven years after the Great Recession, nearly two-thirds of Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners (63 percent) report their businesses are still recovering, according to spring 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners in Dallas/Fort Worth and around the country. Though many feel they have not completely recovered, they are far more optimistic about the economy, business growth, revenue expectations and hiring than a year ago.

Small business owners from the Dallas/Fort Worth area had the highest year-over-year increase in optimism about the national economy than any other market surveyed. In the spring 2014 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, 33 percent were confident the national economy would improve over the next year, compared to 55 percent in 2015. Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs also feel positive about the future of their businesses. Three-quarters (76 percent) plan to grow their business over the next five years, which is higher than any other market surveyed and up 15 percent from last spring. In addition, nearly two-thirds of local entrepreneurs (62 percent) expect an increase in revenue over the next 12 months, compared with 56 percent last year.

“The fact that Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners have expressed such high optimism and expectations for growth, despite a lengthy recovery process from the recession, shows a lot about their strength and resilience,” said Jeffrey Coomer, small business banker manager at Bank of America. “They are selfless and focused individuals who have made tough decisions and sacrifices in the best interest of their customers and employees.”

When looking at staffing, the majority of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs (57 percent) say they expect to hire more employees this year, which is a 17 percent increase from one year ago. Despite these hiring projections, most (51 percent) say it’s difficult to find qualified staff. Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs say the top challenges in finding qualified staff are attributed to a skills gap (63 percent) and high salary demands (51 percent).

Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners demonstrate self-sacrifice; prioritize employees and customers
Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners are prioritizing the needs of customers and employees before their own. The most recent survey reveals that 64 percent of local entrepreneurs would rather delay or reduce their own compensation than take other courses of action to make ends meet; this includes delaying or reducing compensation for their staff (10 percent) or scaling back on the services they offer customers (9 percent). More than half (52 percent) report that they have never given themselves a raise, or haven’t done so in more than two years.

Almost all (97 percent) of Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners say they have employee appreciation programs, including:

  • Dinners and outings (51 percent).
  • Salary bonuses (46 percent).
  • Health care benefits (33 percent).

They also provide a number of work-life balance benefits for employees, including:

  • Flexible hours (53 percent).
  • Office closure on major holidays (47 percent).
  • Extra time off (42 percent).

The majority of Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners (56 percent) cite that establishing relationships with customers and clients is the primary driver of repeat business, and they find many ways to show their appreciation, including:

  • Referral programs (34 percent).
  • Social media promotions (34 percent).
  • Loyalty programs, such as stamp cards or a loyalty app (33 percent).

Additionally, 66 percent say a primary way in which they have adapted to customer demands is by becoming more technologically savvy (62 percent nationally).

Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs appreciate support from their community, mentors and policymakers
Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners overwhelmingly support other small businesses in the community by shopping small. Sixty-four percent of Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners gave themselves an “A” or “B” grade for shopping at other local small businesses. They also rate their local community high in shopping small, as 59 percent handed out an “A” or “B” grade when assessing how well Dallas/Fort Worth residents frequent small businesses.

Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners feel a strong sense of camaraderie in their small business community. In fact, 32 percent say other small business owners or business mentors help the most when it comes to running their business; this is 12 percent higher than the national average and any other market surveyed.

In addition to feeling supported by their local community, 45 percent of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs believe policymakers appreciate small business owners, which is higher than the national average (30 percent) and any other market surveyed. When asked about the impact of specific government policies, Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners say the greatest potential for a positive impact on their business could come from expanded tax breaks for automatically enrolling employees into retirement savings accounts (36 percent) and incentives to keep jobs on U.S. soil (31 percent). Conversely, the policies that would have the most negative impact on their business would be required health care plans for employees (37 percent) and an increased minimum wage (29 percent).

Health care costs and the effectiveness of government leaders are top concerns for Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners
Although overall economic confidence is running high, Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs still have concerns over specific issues. Among the categories surveyed, health care costs (65 percent) and the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders (64 percent) are the top concerns among Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners. Commodity prices and the strength of the U.S. dollar are also top concerns, with 60 percent citing their unease.

For an in-depth look at the attributes of the nation’s small business owners, read the full spring 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report and for additional Dallas/Fort Worth-based insights, download the Small Business Owner Report Dallas/Fort Worth infographic here.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Braun Research conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey by phone, from March 4, 2015, through March 27, 2015, 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 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 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. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 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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Reporters May Contact:
Britney Sheehan, Bank of America, 1.425.467.9744