Regions Bank: Small Business Owners Aiming to Increase Investments in Key Areas

According to the Regions Next Step omnibus survey from Regions Bank, an overwhelming majority of business owners and C-suite executives are focused on company investments to drive growth in the coming year.

The survey, which was conducted by Regions Next Step, the bank’s free financial education program, found that roughly nine in 10 businesses (89%) are planning to increase investments in a key business area in the next 12 months. When asked to select all areas in which companies plan to increase investments, the top two responses were technology or e-commerce platforms (63%) and sales, marketing and advertising (54%).

The results of the survey highlight an important shift in business confidence. A Regions Next Step small business survey in 2020 showed only 46% of small business owners were planning to increase investments in a key business area in the coming year, likely due to economic uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. When those respondents were asked to select all areas in which they expected to increase investments during that time, only 18% said technology or e-commerce platforms and 12% said sales, marketing or advertising.

“The 2021 survey confirms what our commercial banking teams at Regions Bank are hearing from clients: Businesses are planning for growth,” Joye Hehn, Next Step financial education manager for Regions Bank, said. “We know COVID-19 impacted many businesses, but it is encouraging to see planning underway for growth in 2022. As business owners and executives plan for the year ahead, Regions Next Step is committed to providing free tools and useful guidance to help them work toward and achieve their business growth goals.”

The 2021 survey also found nearly two in three businesses (61%) plan to seek additional financing to cover a major investment or expense in the next 12 months. Additionally, approximately one in three businesses said access to capital would have the most significant impact on their company’s success.

“At Regions, we know our business clients and we know their unique business needs,” Brian Willman, head of commercial banking for Regions Bank, said. “As many business owners are strategically planning for 2022 and beyond, our commercial bankers are ready to provide customized advice and guidance to help clients plan for growth. The resources provided by Regions Next Step are just one example of how Regions helps clients manage and grow their companies. From providing financial wellness resources to clients’ employees to managing payroll and all points in between, Regions is there to support stronger businesses, every step of the way.”

While many business owners and executives are seeking financing, the 2021 survey also found they may need guidance on how to do so. Half of respondents said they were not very knowledgeable about the business loan application process (50%) and the various types of business loans available (54%). Additionally, 40% did not feel very knowledgeable about building business credit or cash flow management. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees were the least knowledgeable on these topics, according to the survey.

Other Key Findings

  • According to those surveyed, quality of workforce (35%), access to labor (34%) and inflation (20%) are expected to have a significant impact on business success in the next 12 months.
  • In addition to increased technology expenses, nearly one quarter of businesses (23%) anticipated expenses will increase for materials.
  • A little more than half of respondents (54%) did not feel very prepared when it comes to disaster planning and recovery.
  • While at least three in four businesses have various fraud prevention measures in place, only 40% felt somewhat prepared when it comes to mitigating the risk of business fraud.

The Regions Next Step omnibus survey questions were part of a national online survey that took place between July 23 and Aug. 9. The survey reached 1,024 U.S. business owners and C-suite executives.

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