The economic recovery of the last several years has been good news for small businesses in particular, allowing them to re-expand hiring after difficult times during and following the recession. As a result, many entrepreneurs now feel their companies are well-positioned to succeed in the future as well.
Indeed, 62 percent of small business owners nationwide now say they think their local economies will improve in the next year, up from just 50 percent a year ago, and 45 percent in 2013, according to the latest Small Business Owner Report from Bank of America. Similarly, 56 percent feel the national economy will improve during that period as well, an increase from 45 percent and 41 percent the last two years, respectively.
Who's leading the way?
In addition, it seems that two groups of small business owners in particular are driving these positive feelings, the report said. For instance, 74 percent of millennials and those in Generation X say they're confident in local economic improvement, and 70 percent feel the same way about the national level. Likewise, 71 percent of respondents who opened their companies in the last decade felt the same way about their local situations, and 65 percent nationally.
Points of concern still linger
However, all is not necessarily silver linings for these owners, as many still worry about looming dark clouds, the report said. For instance, 35 percent of respondents said they were worried about next year's upcoming presidential election, and the same number also cited concerns about the possibility of a higher minimum wage and an interest rate spike. In addition, 68 percent each also expressed worries over health care and national political leadership. Another 59 percent were concerned with the strength of the dollar. Many of these issues are still at some of the lowest levels seen in the past few years.
"These concerns, however, do not keep them from investing in one of their greatest assets – the talent they employ," said Robb Hilson, small business executive at Bank of America. "In fact, many small business owners are embracing the workplace practices initiated by some of their larger peers. They are giving employees the opportunity to work remotely, offering flex-time arrangements, and some are even offering unusual perks, such as nap pods, game rooms and bringing pets to work. Workplace dynamics are also being impacted by new technology innovations. Over the past five years, the adoption of new technologies has helped small business owners accept payments, connect with employees, track inventory and boost marketing efforts."
Small business owners who want to make sure their companies are able to weather any storm that may come along, ranging from who gets elected president next year to tight credit access, would probably do well to work hard on their ongoing financial plan, and potentially seek financial investment advice as a means of insulating them against potentially adverse conditions. This is a good idea now, when conditions seem to be good, so that owners aren't caught flat-footed if things go sideways.