OREANDA-NEWS. Greater Washington small business owners have a much brighter business outlook than their national counterparts, according to the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Seventy-one percent plan to grow their business in the next five years, compared to 55 percent of small business owners nationally. Additionally, 66 percent expect revenue to increase over the next year, compared to the national average of 51 percent.

According to the report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners around the country, Greater Washington entrepreneurs are also generally more optimistic about both the national and their local economies. Forty-six percent feel confident that the national economy will improve over the next year, 17 percentage points higher than the national average (29 percent). Greater Washington small business owners’ confidence in their local economy also compares favorably to their national counterparts, as the majority (57 percent) expect their local economy to improve, compared to the national average of 38 percent.

“While small business owners in other parts of the country may have doubts about the economy, Greater Washington small business owners have a much more positive outlook,” said Sean Mitchell, Washington, D.C. small business banker manager at Bank of America. “They still anticipate that they will be able to increase revenue and grow their business in the coming years.”

While upbeat about their future prospects, Greater Washington small business owners are not ramping up plans to hire. Roughly one-third (35 percent) expect to add staff this year – down 15 percentage points from last year.

Greater Washington small business owners watching the presidential race

Greater Washington small business owners are keeping an eye on election developments and thinking about potential impacts on their businesses. On par with small business owners nationally, 68 percent believe that the presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat,” and 55 percent say the same about congressional elections.

Overall, they have mixed feelings about the way the presidential race will shake out: 27 percent are optimistic, 28 percent are pessimistic, and 45 percent are neutral about how it will affect their businesses.

Top economic concerns

The top economic concern for Greater Washington small business owners is the “effectiveness of U.S. government leaders” (79 percent) – up from last year, but in line with previous election years. Following that, they worry most about health care costs (73 percent) and consumer spending (63 percent).

Concern has actually declined or plateaued across all other economic factors since spring 2015, including credit availability, the U.S. and/or global stock market, commodities prices and interest rates.  

When hiring, skill and work experience most important; education less so

When asked what the most important factor is when hiring, 43 percent of Greater Washington small business owners primarily look for applicants with the appropriate skill level. In addition, 29 percent care most about previous work experience, and 26 percent prioritize fit with company culture. Conversely, only 2 percent of local entrepreneurs say education was the most important factor when looking to hire.

When Greater Washington entrepreneurs were asked to name the top qualities they value in prospective employees, they said they most appreciate people who are trustworthy (73 percent) and hardworking (70 percent). Additional characteristics that rose to the top were experience (57 percent) and problem solving ability (53 percent).

Greater Washington small business owners staff up on interns

Some call Washington the intern hub of the country – and that may be true for local small businesses as well. Among those local small business owners who hired last year, nearly one in five added interns to their staff. More so than any other market surveyed, 17 percent of Greater Washington small business owners hired interns over the past year, 10 percentage points above the national average.

For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, read the entire spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, and for additional insights, download the Small Business Owner Report national infographic.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications conducted the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey online between March 17 and April 19, 2016 using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national 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, a total of 300 small business owners were also surveyed in nine target markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue, and region. Previous waves of the Small Business Owner Report survey were conducted by telephone. Best efforts were made to replicate processes in sample, weighting, and method.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's leading 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. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 47 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,700 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs, and award-winning online banking with approximately 33 million active users and approximately 20 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, 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 all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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