OREANDA-NEWS. Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners show greater confidence in their revenue projections and in their local economy than their peers across the country, even though confidence in the national economy overall is down, according to the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Sixty-two percent of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs expect their revenue to increase this year – higher than the national average of 51 percent. In addition, 56 percent anticipate their local economy will improve in the next year – 18 percentage points higher than the national average.

However, the report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners in Dallas/Fort Worth and around the country, also found that only 38 percent feel confident that the national economy will improve over the next year – a 17 percentage-point drop from a year ago. The upcoming elections may be affecting their outlook, with 76 percent believing the presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat,” and 61 percent saying the same about congressional elections – both significantly higher than the national average of 67 and 53 respectively.

“As this election year progresses, Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners appear to be hitting the pause button on their business growth and hiring plans, which is consistent behavior with past election years,” said Jeffrey Coomer, Dallas/Fort Worth small business banker manager at Bank of America. “Despite the uncertainty, however, it’s good to see Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs still expressing optimism in their ability to grow their business.”

While optimism for their local economy and revenue projections are strong, the report also found that plans for business growth and hiring have slowed. Last spring, 76 percent of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs planned to grow over the next five years; that number has dropped to 61 percent. Additionally, 39 percent plan to hire new employees in the next year – down from 57 percent last spring.

Most concerned about U.S. government leader effectiveness, health care costs and commodities prices

The top economic concern for Dallas/Fort Worth area small business owners is the “effectiveness of U.S. government leaders” (79 percent) – in line with previous election years. Among other economic factors, Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners worry most about health care costs (77 percent) and commodities prices (61 percent).

The news isn’t entirely pessimistic as anxiety over several other economic factors has declined or remained flat since spring 2015; concern over credit availability has dropped by 18 percentage points, while interest rates, corporate tax rates, the strength of the U.S. dollar and consumer spending have remained flat.  

Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs plan to invest loan funding in new equipment

Consistent with election year uncertainty, fewer entrepreneurs in the market plan to apply for a loan this year, with 19 percent reporting they intend to seek funding in 2016 – a drop of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Of those who intend to apply for a loan, Dallas/Fort Worth small business owners are more likely to invest in new equipment (52 percent), 18 percentage points higher than the national average. Other top reasons include: hiring more employees (43 percent), investing in new technology (38 percent) and expanding operations (25 percent).

Skill and work experience top hiring factors; education less so

Forty-three percent of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs value skill level as the single most important characteristic in a job candidate, followed by previous work experience (32 percent) and fit with company culture (22 percent). Only 4 percent of Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs say that education level is the most important factor.

When Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs ranked qualities that they find most important for their employees to exhibit, 74 percent said they value candidates who are hardworking and trustworthy. Being a strong communicator (58 percent) and having experience (55 percent) were the other top characteristics valued by these North Texas small business owners. Tech savvy (34 percent), sales ability (27 percent) and knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) (14 percent) were valued less.  

Health care costs concern Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs

In Dallas/Fort Worth, 43 percent of small business owners offer health insurance to their employees; of those, 26 percent report their health care costs increased this year by more than 20 percent. As a result, the majority (77 percent) of these entrepreneurs are concerned about the cost of health care.

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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