BofA Report: Small-business owners expect increased revenue, fewer supply chain and labor issues over next year

PROVIDENCE – Small-business owners across the United States continue to have a favorable outlook on their business, according to Bank of America Corp.’s 2023 Women & Minority Business Owner Spotlight report, with 67% of survey respondents anticipating revenue growth over the next 12 months despite the ongoing impacts of inflation and high operating costs.

The survey of more than 1,000 small-business owners nationwide explores the outlook of all entrepreneurs, with specific insights on the perspectives of women, Black, Hispanic-Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander business owners around access to capital, work-life balance and community support, according to a news release.

The study found that economic confidence has dropped since last fall, with 34% of entrepreneurs saying they believe the national economy will improve over the next 12 months (down from 44%), and 41% believe their local economy will improve (down from 48%).

The number of small-business owners who said they plan to obtain funding for their business also dropped, going down to 77% from 83% in fall 2022.

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Topping the list of primary concerns for small-business owners nationwide was inflation, with 78% of respondents saying so, followed by the U.S. political environment (67%), interest rates (65%), commodities prices (63%) and concerns over a recession (60%), according to the survey.

There was a notable drop in the number of business owners who said supply chain issues are still affecting their business, decreasing to 68% from 80% who said the same in fall 2022, while less than half of employers (46%) said labor shortages are impacting their business, a significant drop from 61% in fall 2022.

“While facing multiple obstacles and challenges over the past year, today’s entrepreneurs continue to persevere and move forward with their growth and expansion plans,” Sharon Miller, president of small business and head of specialty banking and lending at Bank of America, said in a statement. “Our newest report illustrates that despite a changing business landscape, women and minority small business owners continue to forge their own pathways to success while remaining pillars in their local economies.”

Women business owners reported an overall positive business outlook, with 74% planning to obtain funding, 63% expecting revenue growth, 45% planning to expand their business over the next year and 32% planning to hire more employees.

Slightly more than half of women business owners (51%) believe they currently have equal access to capital, which is up from 48% in fall 2022, however, 31% said they do not think they will ever have equal access to capital to start a business, compared to 35% of Black business owners, 20% of Hispanic-Latino business owners and 20% of Asian American and Pacific Islander business owners who said the same.

Minority business owners also said they had difficulty accessing capital, with 44% of Black, 43% of Hispanic-Latino, and 31% of Asian American and Pacific Islander business owners saying they’ve personally faced challenges.

Revenue expectations for Hispanic-Latino business owners held steady, with 91% saying they believe their revenue will increase or stay the same over the coming year. However, their economic confidence has dropped significantly since last fall, as 35% of Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs believe the national economy will improve (down from 45%) and 45% believe their local economy will improve (down from 52%), the survey found.

Many Black entrepreneurs (86%) foresee their revenue increasing in the next 12 months, up from 72% in fall 2022. This revenue optimism is fueling hiring and expansion plans, with 56% of Black business owners planning to hire more employees over the next year, up from 44% last fall, and 71% reporting plans to grow their business, up from 65% in fall 2022, while 96% plan to obtain financing for their business in the year ahead.

When asked about their business outlook for the coming 12 months, Asian American and Pacific Islander business owners tempered their overall outlook, including revenue expectations, which dropped 8 percentage points to since last fall to 89% this year.

Business growth, investment and expansion are top-of-mind for Asian American and Pacific Islander business owners, the study found, with 78% reporting they plan to obtain financing for their business and 45% planning to expand their business in the year ahead.

The full 2023 Women & Minority Business Owner Spotlight report can be found here.