NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Bank of America has released its bi-annual Small Business Owner Report, a snapshot of America's small business community and how it views the future. The report attempts to capture both the personal and financial prospects of entrepreneurs employing between two and 99 employees, measuring issues such as work-life balance, health and happiness and business prospects for the coming six months.
One area with some surprising results is the strong showing of Millennials, who as business owners are the most optimistic across age groups about the future.
The data seems to bear this out. Millennials outperformed all other age groups when asked about their outlook on four metrics: expected increased revenue, expected increase in hiring, preparing for the unexpected and managing stress well. In fact, in all areas except for stress management, the data showed a direct correlation between youth and optimism, with 51- to 64-year-olds the least optimistic of all. This holds especially true in hiring prospects, where only 24% of 51- to 64-year-olds said that they expect to increase their hiring in the coming year.
"We found it very notable that Millennial small business owners are so optimistic about their future," wrote Robb Hilson, Small Business Executive for Bank of America. "Whether the topic was their economic outlook, the growth of their business or their personal wellness, Millennials were much more positive than their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts."
The question, of course, is why. What makes our young business owners overwhelmingly more likely to have a positive outlook on their future success?
Some of it may have to do with simply the energy and optimism of youth, as nearly two thirds of this age group expect national and local economic conditions to improve over the next 12 months.
"When it comes to optimism, hindsight isn't always 20/20," Hilson said, who described the findings as surprising. "Millennial small business owners see today's economy as an opportunity to grow. They are investing in their business and are confident that it will pay off."
Some of it may also have to do with the changing nature of business and communication. Further information from the Small Business Report indicated that, unsurprisingly, Millennial business owners are more likely to embrace new technologies to help further their businesses. They take advantage of new communications tools like Skype or Facetime to facilitate the supply chain and look for new advantages that technology can afford. This may also help explain why Millennials feel more confident about their prospects, as the future will only add to those tools available.
Several other surprising pieces of data emerged from the Small Business Owner Report, including that owning and operating a small business actually seems to be good for your health. According to the data, nearly 50% of small business owners get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, well above the national average of 6.7. In fact, almost a third of respondents say that because they choose to run their own business they exercise more regularly and eat better, a surprising result considering the classic image of the harried, always-on-the clock small businessman.
That said, there's at least something to this image, as 72% of small business owners say they work more then 40 hours per week.
--Written by Eric Reed for MainStreet