Chicago Is Open for Business: Bank of America Survey Finds Growth Among Area Entrepreneurs Is on the Rise

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Chicagoland Small Business Owners Feeling Optimistic About the Year
Ahead, Planning for a Robust 2016

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Small business owners in the Chicago area are feeling increasingly
optimistic, according to the fall
2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
, a semi-annual
study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small
business owners in the Chicago area and around the country.

The report found that 67 percent of Chicago small business owners expect
revenue to increase over the next 12 months, compared to 61 percent last
year. In addition, 60 percent plan to hire in the coming year, a 12
percentage point increase from just one year ago.

“Small businesses continue to drive economic growth in our great city,”
said Jim Holmes, Chicago small business banker manager for Bank of
America. “It’s encouraging to see confidence among Chicago-area
entrepreneurs so high, especially when it comes to hiring and the
strength of the economy. We’re looking forward to an exciting year
ahead.”

Not surprisingly, this expected growth demands more capital.
Twenty-eight percent of Chicago small business owners plan to apply for
a loan in 2016, compared to just 18 percent a year ago.

Economic confidence is on the rise, despite lingering concerns
In
addition to confidence in their businesses, Chicago entrepreneurs have
increased assurance in the economy: Half (50 percent) predict the local
and national economies will improve over the next year (compared to 42
and 48 percent a year ago, respectively), and 39 percent are optimistic
about global economic improvement (versus 32 percent a year ago).

When asked about their top concerns, Chicago small business owners
believe the following factors could potentially impact their businesses
over the next 12 months:

  • The possibility of future interest rate hikes (38 percent).
  • The upcoming U.S. presidential election (37 percent).
  • Financial crises in countries abroad [i.e., China and Greece] (33
    percent).
  • The possibility of a rising minimum wage (31 percent).

Chicago entrepreneurs bolstering business with technology
Chicagoland
entrepreneurs are not afraid of change, especially when it comes to new
technology. Most (91 percent) Chicago small business owners think
technology has helped their business, and 83 percent are willing to
adopt new technologies into their businesses.

In recent years, small business owners have adopted new technology to do
the following:

  • Accept payments (55 percent).
  • Connect with employees (52 percent).
  • Optimize websites (45 percent).
  • Track inventory (39 percent).
  • Create apps for customers (24 percent).

When it comes to cybersecurity concerns, 11 percent of Chicago small
business owners have been a victim of a cybersecurity breach. In order
to better protect themselves and their customers, more than two-thirds
(68 percent) are upgrading their technology at least once a year. As a
result, 59 percent of local business owners feel prepared for a
cybersecurity breach.

Chicago small business owners embrace workplace 2.0
Chicago
workplace cultures have become more technology and teamwork focused,
with 44 percent saying their workplace has become more tech savvy and 39
percent saying it has become more collaborative. However, Chicago small
business owners are some of the least likely to offer telecommuting to
employees (41 percent, versus 47 percent nationally).

Telecommuting aside, Chicago small business owners do offer a variety of
other perks and benefits to their employees including flexible hours (56
percent) or salary bonuses (50 percent). They also provide many
nontraditional perks, including areas to relax or unwind, such as nap
pods or game rooms (19 percent), office happy hours (17 percent) or
pet-friendly work environments (11 percent).

Chicagoans feeling the holiday spirit
Chicago small business
owners take care of their people around the holidays. Out of the nine
markets we survey, they are the most likely to close the office during
the holiday season (50 percent, versus 44 percent nationally), and are
more likely to hold holiday parties than most of their national
counterparts (48 percent, versus 45 percent nationally). Additionally,
45 percent of local business owners offer flexible hours or vacation
time around the holidays to employees – 12 percent more than their
national counterparts.

When it comes to holiday shopping milestones, Black Friday and Cyber
Monday are not significant revenue drivers for Chicago small business
owners. More than half (57 percent) feel that Black Friday has no impact
on their business’ bottom line and 62 percent feel similarly about Cyber
Monday, saying that it is overhyped and has no impact on their bottom
line. These numbers are nearly identical to the 2014 holiday season.

For an in-depth look at the attributes of the nation’s small business
owners, read the full fall
2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
, and for additional
insights from small business owners in Chicago and across the country,
download the Small Business Owner Report local insights infographic here.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Braun
Research, Inc. conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
survey by phone from August 21 through September 22, 2015, on behalf of
Bank of America. Braun contacted a nationally representative sample of
1,001 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, 300 small business owners were surveyed in each
of nine target markets: Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York,
Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami. The margin of error
for the national sample is +/- 3.1 percent; the margin of error for the
oversampled markets is +/- 5.7 percent, reported at a 95 percent
confidence level.

The Braun Research survey results conducted on behalf and for the
exclusive use of Bank of America and interpretations in this release are
not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional
advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial
advisor. Always seek the advice of an accountant, attorney or financial
advisor with any questions you may have regarding the decisions you
undertake as a result of reviewing the information contained herein.
Nothing in this report should be construed as either advice or legal
opinion.

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 16,100 ATMs, and award-winning
online banking with 32 million active users and more than 18 million
mobile users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth
management companies and is a global leader in 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.

Visit the Bank of America newsroom for more Bank
of America news
.

www.bankofamerica.com

Contacts

Reporters May Contact:
Diane Wagner, Bank of America, 1.312.992.2370
diane.wagner@bankofamerica.com