Uncertainty gives way to small business optimism

April 25, 2018 | GET MORE : Economic Trends

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U.S. Bank survey shows ‘economic uncertainty’ is no longer the biggest concern for small businesses.

U.S. small business owners are more certain about their futures, and they are investing in their companies again, according to the ninth annual U.S. Bank Small Business Survey. 

Economic uncertainty no longer ranks as the top concern in the survey, breaking a five-year trend. Instead, competition from big businesses is the biggest challenge, followed by a tie between taxes and uncertainty.  

“Businesses loathe uncertainty so their confidence in the future is a positive sign,” said Ross Carey, head of business banking at U.S. Bank. “Now is a great time for small business owners to invest while they feel more clarity about the direction of the economy.”

[Download a PDF snapshot of national U.S. Bank Small Business Survey results.]

Seventy percent of the 2,700 owners surveyed described themselves as optimistic about the future of their own company. Their positivity is reflected in their financial results. Fifty-seven percent expect their revenues to increase in 2018, while 55 percent are counting on growth in profits. 

“Following the long recovery from the recession, small businesses are in a good place, ready to expand,” said Jeff Parker, leader of U.S. Bank Business Banking Product Strategy. “The optimism is very good to see.” 

The following are other key insights from the 2018 U.S. Bank Small Business Survey:

  • Small business owners aren’t stressed about tax reform. At the time of the survey, 37 percent expected a positive impact from tax reform versus 19 percent who predicted a negative impact.  
  • Only one third of business owners have exit plans, yet most are looking to eventually transfer to family members or dissolve their business. A majority also feel confident about a successful transition within the next 10 years.
  • Though ethical dilemmas at their own companies don’t come up very often, business owners value ethical behavior and enforce it themselves.
  • Owners want their business bank to stay current with technology, but they also value building relationships and trust in person. Forty percent want the option to talk with someone in person at their bank to resolve issues.
  • Eighty three percent of small business owners expect to still be using their local branch five years from now - down about five percentage points from last year. 
  • Though chip cards (used by 56 percent) and magnetic stripes (52 percent) are most common in small business point of sale systems, contactless mobile payments (36 percent) have reached widespread acceptance. 

Regional U.S. Bank Small Business Survey results PDF snapshots are available for Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. 

Market research firm LRW conducted the online survey of 2,700 qualified small business owners in 25 states during January and February 2018. Those businesses needed to have less than $10 million in annual revenue, with half of the respondents having revenue under $200,000 per year. The margin of error is less than 2 percent on national results. 

U.S. Bank meets the needs of small businesses with a wide range of products and services that include deposit accounts and cash flow management, card payment and acceptance tools, equipment leasing and wealth management. It is one of the most active SBA lenders, ranking fifth for SBA 7(a) loan volume and fifth for SBA 7(a) units nationally.

About U.S. Bank

U.S. Bancorp, with 74,000 employees and $460 billion in assets as of March 31, 2018, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest bank in the United States. The Minneapolis-based bank blends its branch and ATM network with mobile and online tools that allow customers to bank how, when and where they prefer. U.S. Bank is committed to serving its millions of retail, business, wealth management, payment, commercial and corporate, and investment services customers across the country and around the world as a trusted financial partner, a commitment recognized by the Ethisphere Institute naming the bank a 2018 World’s Most Ethical Company. Visit U.S. Bank online or follow on social media to stay up to date with company news.


Sam Black, U.S. Bank Public Affairs & Communications
612-303-9203, samuel.black@usbank.com
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