By Karen Axelton
Despite economic ups and downs, overall the nation’s small business owners are feeling very confident about the economy in general, the outlook for their businesses in particular, and their ability to get the capital they need to operate and grow, according to Bank of America’s first Small Business Owner Report.
Small business owners believe the local economy matters more to their businesses’ success than does the national economy. Some 69 percent say the local economy is “very important” to their businesses, which may be why they’re feeling good about their prospects for the next 12 months. Though only 35 percent think the national economy will improve in that time period, 42 percent say their local economy will get better.
In keeping with their self-directed attitude, the majority of small business owners (53 percent) believe their decisions matter more to their businesses’ success than does the overall economy. Younger entrepreneurs (aged 18 to 34) were even more likely to feel this way (66 percent).
Some 31 percent of small business owners plan to add staff in the next 12 months, with the number of employees expected to grow by an average of 25 percent. More than half (56 percent) say their staffing levels will stay the same, which is encouraging in itself after years when many layoffs have occurred.
But staff isn’t the only thing that’s growing for the nation’s small businesses. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) project their sales will increase in 2012, with 32 percent expecting their revenues to stay about the same.
What challenges are small business owners facing? Not surprising in an election year, 75 percent cited the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders as their top concern. Other worries included oil and gas prices (73 percent), consumer spending (71 percent) and the cost of health care (70 percent).
Overall, small business owners don’t express much worry about the availability of credit, which ranked as one of the bottom three concerns among respondents. More than three-fourths (78 percent) of applicants who applied for a loan within the past two years were approved, and 71 percent of respondents say they currently have enough capital to run their businesses effectively.
Far from thinking it’s too difficult to get business loans, one-fourth of respondents believe today’s lending requirements are appropriate and shouldn’t change. In fact, 20 percent say requirements to get business loans should be even more stringent so that small business owners would be less likely to default.
Image by Flickr user apdk (Creative Commons)