Entrepreneurial

Small business owners are optimistic


Small business owners are optimistic about the future of the economy. That’s the gist of a new Bank of America survey released last week. The first of its kind, the survey included some 1,000 small business owners.

“The overarching theme here is despite of all the stress and challenges, small business owners in this country are confident folks and feeling pretty good about the near term future of their business,” said Robb Hilson, a small business executive with Bank of America. “Optimism has improved over the last several quarters.”

Though the survey found that small business owners feel confident about their local economies, they feel less confident about national leadership, which is unsurprising given the upcoming election and the shaky economic recovery.

According to the survey, talent retention ranked as the biggest concern for small business owners. Of the companies surveyed, 44 percent did not offer a benefits package, and Hilson cited the need for employee retirement plans to help retain talent and avoid losing workers to larger firms and companies. That jibes with another recent study Reuters covered about a crisis in employee retirement planning among African-American owned businesses.

Aside from retirement planning, the survey also found that cash flow problems, though helped by debt collection technologies like mobile payment platforms, were another point of stress for small business owners.

Big banks see slow recovery for small business

Marc Bernstein’s response to reports of loan facilitators advising small business clients to avoid big banks: “It’s simply bad information.”

The head of Wells Fargo’s small business lending initiatives then pointed to the $3.7 billion the country’s fourth-largest bank (by total assets) lent to small firms over the first three months of the year – an increase of 27 percent over the first quarter of 2010.

“That’s not small change,” said Bernstein, who added Wells Fargo is the largest national lender of loans under $100,000 and was recently honored as the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2011 Large 7(a) Lender of the Year. “We are trying to do everything we can to get people who apply for a loan approved, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of small businesses that unfortunately have been hit very badly by the downturn and are struggling and it’s hard to see how they’re going to handle more debt.”

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