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Bank of America Report: Small Business Owners in Metro NY are Bullish About 2016

Small business owners in metro New York are bullish about the year ahead, according to the fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners in metro New York and around the country.

Seventy percent of metro New York small business owners expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months, a 10 percent increase from a year ago. In addition, 61 percent plan to hire more employees, a 13 percent increase from last year. This expected growth calls for more capital, which may explain why one-third (33 percent) of metro New York entrepreneurs plan to apply for a loan in 2016, 8 percent higher than a year ago.

“New York small business owners continue to be extremely positive about their prospects for growth,” said Michael Angelone, New York small business banker manager at Bank of America. “In addition to exhibiting increased levels of optimism around revenue, hiring and the economy, small business owners are also responding to the needs of their employees and customers by embracing technological advancements and workplace flexibility.”

Economic Confidence Is On the Rise

Metro New York small business owners’ expectations for the economy mirror their attitude on business growth: 57 percent are confident the local economy will improve in the next year (compared to 51 percent in fall 2014), 52 percent are confident the national economy will improve (compared to 47 percent in fall 2014) and 41 percent believe the global economy will improve, representing a slight uptick from a year ago.

When asked about their top concerns, metro New York small business owners said they worry about economic factors impacting their businesses, but are less concerned than they were a year ago:

  • Effectiveness of U.S. government leaders (68 percent, versus 81 percent a year ago)
  • Strength of the U.S. dollar (59 percent, versus 69 percent)
  • Interest rates (57 percent, versus 62 percent)
  • Consumer spending (55 percent, versus 62 percent)

Metro New York Small Business Owners Embrace Technology and Workplace 2.0

Metro New York small businesses have shifted in recent years to create workplace environments that are more collaborative, tech-friendly and flexible. Eighty-six percent are willing to adopt new technologies and 88 percent think changing technology has helped their business; specifically, 84 percent report that technology has helped better serve their customers.

Metro New York entrepreneurs have also shifted to a more flexible work environment in recent years, with more than half (52 percent) offering telecommuting as an option to employees (versus 47 percent nationally), a significant increase from the 40 percent who offered it five years ago.

This flexibility is paying off, as 57 percent of metro New York small business owners think their employees have better attitudes when they have the option to telecommute and half (50 percent) think their workforce has become more productive due to telecommuting. Over the past five years, 37 percent of metro New York entrepreneurs think their workplace has become more collaborative and focused on teamwork, and more welcoming to change.

Nontraditional perks are also emerging at metro New York small businesses, including areas to relax or unwind, such as nap pods or game rooms (17 percent), office happy hours (17 percent) or pet-friendly work environments (13 percent).

Small Business Owners are Concerned and Prepared for a Cybersecurity Breach

With increased reliance on technology comes an increase in the risk of cyber threats. In fact, 11 percent of New York area small business owners have already fallen victim to a cybersecurity breach. In order to better protect themselves and their customers from the threat of a cyber-attack, 70 percent are upgrading their technology at least once a year. As a result, 64 percent of local business owners feel prepared for a cyber-attack – more than any other market surveyed.

Small Business Owners Look Forward to a Happy New Year

Many metro New York small business owners intend to offer holiday-related perks to their employees during this year’s holiday season. Top holiday-perks include salary bonuses (52 percent), holiday parties (46 percent), flexible hours or vacation time (41 percent), or closing the office (43 percent).

And while 53 percent state that Black Friday has no impact on their bottom line, the number of metro New York small business owners who say that it has had a significant impact has increased over the past year, from 19 percent to 24 percent – indicating even stronger pressure in the fourth quarter for small businesses to meet their numbers. The same can be said about Cyber Monday, with its relevance to making year-end targets increasing from 13 percent to 16 percent year over year.

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