Greater Washington Small Business Owners Say Finding and Retaining Talent Is Challenging, but Critical for Success

Fall Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Finds Local Optimism Heading Into 2014

Business Wire


Bank of America today released its fall 2013 Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. The survey, which includes an oversampling of small business owners in the Greater Washington market, found that Greater Washington small businesses have a more positive hiring outlook than the rest of the nation. Forty-two percent of Greater Washington respondents plan to hire over the next 12 months, compared to 31 percent nationally. Yet close to half of Greater Washington small businesses (49 percent) say finding qualified employees is difficult.

Of those small business owners who plan on hiring new talent in 2014, almost one-third (32 percent) are staffing up for an increase in business. With good talent difficult to find and small business owners looking to increase business, they are also focused on keeping valuable employees. The report found that the top actions small business owners in Greater Washington take to retain employees are providing flexible working arrangements (48 percent), rewarding high performers with bonuses (45 percent) and listening to and implementing employee feedback (42 percent).

Nearly half of Greater Washington small business owners (47 percent) agree that managing their staff is a source of great pride for them. But 67 percent admit to having some level of frustration with their employees. The top frustrations are lack of proactive thinking and poor time management (29 percent respectively), as well as lack of accountability and poor communication (21 percent respectively).

For more information on small business owners’ talent needs, click here.

Greater Washington small business owners are optimistic about the year ahead, but continue to have concerns
Many Greater Washington small business owners are feeling upbeat heading into 2014. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed expect their revenue to increase next year.

“We’re encouraged by the positive outlook our region’s small business owners have for their individual success,” said Zachary Hauser, Greater Washington small business banker manager at Bank of America. “This optimism indicates great potential for the small business community in our area, and Bank of America is committed to ensuring they have the support and counsel to be successful in 2014.”

In addition, the report found that 41 percent of Greater Washington small business owners believe their local economy will improve over the next 12 months, but they are not as confident about the national economy. Only 23 percent of Greater Washington respondents think that the national economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to 41 percent nationally.

The effectiveness of U.S. government leaders is the top economic concern for Greater Washington small businesses (50 percent) during the next 12 months, but significantly less than the national average of 76 percent. Other concerns on the minds of Greater Washington small business owners are:

  • Corporate tax rates – 48 percent (59 percent nationally).
  • Interest rates – 47 percent (55 percent nationally).
  • Commodities prices (e.g., oil, gas) – 45 percent (70 percent nationally).
  • Strength of the U.S. dollar – 43 percent (69 percent nationally).
  • Health care costs – 42 percent (77 percent nationally).

Sixty-two percent surveyed said health care legislation will not have an impact on their hiring plans compared to 56 percent nationally. In addition, only 27 percent of Greater Washington small business owners currently provide health/wellness benefit packages, consistent with national levels (27 percent).

For more information on small business owners’ 2014 outlook, click here.

Holidays are “business as usual” for many small businesses
Eighty-four percent of small business owners in Greater Washington think Black Friday has little or no impact on their bottom line, and the same amount (85 percent) think Cyber Monday is similarly overhyped.

Maintaining a work-life balance during the last months of the year does not appear to be an issue for many Greater Washington small business owners as just under a quarter (24 percent) report working longer hours during the holidays.

Greater Washington small business owners are generous when thanking their employees during the holidays. The most popular perks planned for this holiday season are:

  • Giving gifts – 47 percent.
  • Awarding salary bonuses – 43 percent.
  • Holding a holiday party – 38 percent.
  • Closing the office during the holidays – 38 percent.
  • Offering flexible working hours during the holidays – 37 percent.

Only 12 percent do not intend to offer holiday-related perks this year, up slightly from 7 percent in 2012.

For more information on small business owners’ holiday outlook, click here.

Bank of America has continued to lend actively to small businesses across the U.S. and Greater Washington. Through September of this year, Bank of America has extended more than $25 million in new credit across the District of Columbia to small businesses – an increase of 52 percent over the same period last year. This has helped enable Bank of America to exceed its national small business lending pledge to the White House and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For an in-depth look at the attributes of the nation’s small business owners, read the entire fall 2013 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. An infographic with highlights of the report can be found here.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Braun Research conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey by phone between September 12 and October 3, 2013, 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 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 and the margin of error for the oversampled markets is +/- 5.7 percent, with both 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. We serve approximately 51 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,200 retail banking offices and approximately 16,200 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 14 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 more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Reporters May Contact:
Nicole Nastacie, Bank of America, 1.980.388.7252


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