Survey: Small business outlook improves a year out

Dec. 8. Two thirds of small business owners are optimistic or very optimistic for the long-term economic outlook, which remains on par with pre-pandemic sentiment from 2019, based on a survey conducted by First Citizens Bank which has conducted the Small Business Forecast for six years.

“This year has been challenging and unpredictable for the world, but our report shows that small business owners have not let the challenges of today impact their positive perception about our economic outlook,” said Doug Sprecher, director of sales strategy at First Citizens Bank.

However, when compared to the near-term economic confidence, small business owners are less confident in the conditions for the next 12 months. Of those surveyed, 57 percent reported being confident or very confident in the United States’ near-term economic conditions.

Last year

This is a significant decline from 2019, when 66 percent of respondents felt confident about the immediate economic outlook.

Businesses with a history of less than 10 years (77 percent), those with more than 51 employees (86 percent) and business owners ages 18-34 (89 percent) are most confident in their ability to grow, according to the survey.

Even with a decline in confidence over the next 12 months, the survey has found the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners indicates continued resiliency. Although 67 percent said their business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and 79 percent feel personally responsible for the financial stability of their employees, small business owners reported having more confidence in their ability to grow their business in 2021 (69 percent) than they do in the overall economic outlook for the U.S. (57 percent).

Of those planning to grow and expand their business in the next 6-12 months, 44 percent indicated they will do so by hiring more employees and 26 percent noted investments in technology.

Other findings:

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is considered very concerning by 51 percent of business owners and registers as the most prevalent concern impacting their ability to meet business goals in the next year.

Local loyalty continues to drive positive sentiment, with 72 percent of respondents saying North Carolina is a great place to start a small business.

Banks are facing stronger competition from non-traditional funding sources. In 2020, 43 percent of respondents plan to seek funding in the next 6-12 months, with the top funding sources being business credit cards (33 percent), online payment companies (16 percent), loans from vendors (20 percent), social media (17 percent) and venture capitalists/angel investors (11 percent).

Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank is one of the largest family-controlled banks in the US, with offices in 19 states.


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