U.S. Bank Survey: Times Are Good for Small Business Owners

According to a U.S. Bank annual survey, small business owners expressed more optimism than in any time during the eight-year history of the report.

Although optimism is high, U.S. Bank noted there are still challenges ahead for small business owners, who are seeing revenue growth, preparing for capital investments and modestly adding staff, even though 61% reported having difficulty finding quality employees.

“Business owners are gaining confidence in the economy. For most owners, the recession is long over and now they’re making plans to expand,” said John Elmore, vice chairman of Consumer and Business Banking at U.S. Bank.

The positive sentiment is exemplified by the owners’ self-assessment as 80% of those surveyed describe their own business as strong, another historical high for the survey. In addition, 38% report higher revenues, more than at any time in the past eight years.

With the 2016 election complete, 18% of small business owners feel that the economy is in an expansion, up from 9% a year ago. Owners expect the trend to continue, with 28% predicting the economy will be in an expansion by early 2018.

Four out of 10 owners said they plan to make a capital expenditure to expand their business in the next year. One fourth also expect to increase their staff, despite the challenge of finding skilled workers.

For the first time, this year’s survey asked owners to assess their personal satisfaction. Ninety-three percent say they’re satisfied with the balance between their work and personal lives, while fewer owners (85%) are satisfied with their wealth and savings derived from their small business. A robust 96% of owners are satisfied with how their business improves the lives of others.

The survey of 3,200 small business owners within U.S. Bank’s 25-state national footprint was conducted in January and February 2017. Respondents all had less than $10 million in annual revenue, with half under $200,000.

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