CHARLOTTE, N.C. – While the majority of U.S. small-business owners (72%) are concerned about the impact of a potential recession, 76% report they are confident that their business could withstand the downturn.
These figures are according to the recently released Bank of America 2023 Small Business Owner Report. The survey of more than 1,000 business owners across the country found that, despite the continued impact of inflation and supply chain issues, 65% of business owners anticipate revenue growth in the next 12 months.
Small-business owners were also asked about topics including future plans, sustainability, employee retention and labor. Other findings from the study include:
- 79% of business owners raised prices over the last 12 months.
- 53% added benefits and perks to retain talent.
- 49% plan to use automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools for their business in 2023.
- 34% believe the national economy will improve in the next 12 months.
“While the dual pressures of inflation and supply chain disruptions continue to incumber operations, small-business owners remain bullish about their prospects for the year ahead,” says Sharon Miller, president of small business and head of specialty banking and lending at Bank of America. “Small businesses are poised for growth, implementing strategies to retain and attract talent and exploring new tools including artificial intelligence to gain an edge in a highly competitive market.”
Economic Concerns and Business Outlook
The study found that inflation (79%) and a potential recession (72%) top business owners’ concerns over the next 12 months. These entrepreneurs also expressed anxiety around commodities prices (68%), the U.S. political environment (68%), rising interest rates (67%) and supply chain (57%).
Despite these concerns, the bottom line remains strong for many entrepreneurs, with 56% of business owners reporting increased revenue in 2022 compared to 2021. Looking ahead at the next 12 months, 48% plan to expand their business (vs. 37% last spring). Additionally, 82% intend to obtain financing in the year ahead (vs. 70% last spring).
Retention Efforts and Hiring Plans
Struggling with labor shortages and a competitive job market, business owners are increasingly focused on employee retention. Over the past 12 months, 53% have added additional benefits and perks to existing compensation packages, including remote/hybrid work (34%), cost-of-living bonuses (34%) and more vacation time (33%). And 75% of these business owners said their efforts meaningfully impacted employee morale and retention.
Additionally, 34% of business owners plan to hire in 2023, up from 26% last spring. Over the past 12 months, 51% implemented additional perks and benefits to attract new talent, such as increased base pay for new employees (54%), remote/hybrid work (30%), new employee training or resource groups (27%) and additional healthcare benefits (27%).
Continued Digitization of Business Operations
In the past year, 80% of small-business owners adopted digital tools for their business, leveraging digital banking to manage their finances and social media to reach their customers. Business owners are also embracing AI and automation, with 49% planning to use AI tools to enhance their business in 2023.
Looking ahead, 55% of entrepreneurs anticipate accepting exclusively digital payments at some point in the future, and 90% say digital tools help make their operations more efficient, helping them save time and stay organized.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].