Entrepreneurs Split on Impact of Tax Reform, Trade Policies Economic
Outlook Conforms With Slower Economic Growth
CHARLOTTE, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. entrepreneurs continued to project a strong business outlook this
spring even as confidence in the national and local economy weakened,
according to the spring
2019 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report.
Health care costs and the political environment topped the list of small
business owners’ concerns for the year ahead, while entrepreneurs
reported a mixed view on the impact of last year’s landmark tax reform
and shifts in trade policy.
The report, based on a semiannual survey of more than 1,500 small
business owners across the country, reveals that:
Small business owners’ business outlook over the next 12 months
remains strong and steady:
Sixty-seven percent of entrepreneurs plan to expand their business
(steady from fall 2018).
Fifty-nine percent believe their revenue will increase (vs. 57 percent
in fall 2018).
- Twenty-four percent plan to hire (vs. 27 percent in fall 2018).
- Twelve percent plan to apply for a loan (vs. 15 percent in fall 2018).
While their economic outlook weakens slightly:
Forty-eight percent are confident the national economy will improve
(vs. 55 percent in fall 2018).
Fifty-one percent express similar confidence in their local economies
(vs. 54 percent in fall 2018).
Top economic concerns have all risen since fall 2018, including health
care costs (66 percent), interest rates (48 percent), stock market and
consumer spending (both 47 percent).
The political environment, a new concern measured this spring, ranks
as business owners’ second-greatest concern (65 percent).
“Small business owners remain optimistic about the outlook for their own
businesses and project revenue increases in the year ahead,” said Sharon
Miller, head of Small Business, Bank of America. “However, these
entrepreneurs are also feeling slightly less confident in the economy
and are expressing more concern about a variety of economic factors.”
Entrepreneurs split on effects of recent policy changes, contemplate
impact of climate change
Nearly two-thirds of entrepreneurs expressed concern about the current
political environment, though they are divided over how major policy
issues are directly impacting them. Half of small business owners say
the new tax code has impacted their business — with 28 percent reporting
that impact as positive. This is down from the 45 percent who
anticipated a positive impact one year ago.
Regarding U.S. trade policy, 41 percent say they have been impacted by
tariffs, with 18 percent reporting a negative impact, 9 percent
reporting a positive impact and 14 percent reporting a mixed impact.
Additionally, 33 percent of entrepreneurs say they’re concerned about
climate change affecting their business.
Most business owners preparing for the worst — but are they doing
Unexpected or major economic events can transform a business in the
blink of an eye. While most entrepreneurs are taking steps to protect
their business from potential threats, such as natural disasters, an
economic downturn or a cyber-breach, a sizeable number are not.
Additionally, most entrepreneurs do not have a plan to address
reputational crises or challenges.
Sixty-one percent have a business continuity plan in case of a flood,
fire or other disaster, though 39 percent do not have such a plan.
Sixty-nine percent have taken steps to prepare for an economic
downturn, while 31 percent have not.
Eighty percent of business owners have taken at least one step to
protect customer data from a cyber-breach, while 20 percent have not
taken any steps.
Seventy-six percent do not have a plan to manage reputational issues
Perhaps a result of growing up in a time of greater economic turmoil,
millennial business owners are more likely to have taken steps to
prepare their business for an economic downturn (79 percent vs. national
average of 69 percent) and are more likely to have a plan in place to
address reputational issues (36 percent vs. national average of 24
The power of posts — are online reviews more of a trust broker or
Customer feedback holds tremendous sway in the digital era, with online
reviews serving as a powerful channel for sharing both compliments and
criticisms. While a majority of business owners have received a negative
online review of their business (54 percent), more believe positive
reviews have greater impact than negative ones (62 percent vs. 38
Furthermore, 63 percent say reviews are important to the success of
their business, with 80 percent reporting that positive reviews have
helped generate business opportunities. However, recognizing that
negative reviews also have an impact, 66 percent of business owners who
have received one say they respond as soon as possible to limit the
For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small
business owners, read the spring
2019 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report.
For additional insights, download the Small
Business Owner Report infographic.
Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report Survey
Public Affairs conducted the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
Survey for spring 2019 online between February 8 and February 24, 2019,
using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. Ipsos
contacted a national sample of 1,504 small business owners in the United
States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing
between two and 99 employees. In addition, a total of approximately 300
small business owners were also surveyed in each of 10 target markets:
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York,
San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The final results were weighted to
national benchmark standards for size, revenue and region.
Prior to 2016, previous waves of the Small Business Owner Report Survey
were conducted by telephone, and while best efforts were made to
replicate processes, differences in sample, weighting and method
suggests caution when making direct statistical comparisons of the
results from pre-2016 and post-2016.
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 66 million
consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,400 retail
financial centers, including approximately 1,800 lending centers, 2,200
financial centers with a Consumer Investment Financial Solutions
Advisor, and 1,500 business centers; approximately 16,400 ATMs; and
award-winning digital banking with more than 37 million active users,
including over 27 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global
leader in wealth management, 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
across the United States, its territories and approximately 35
countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on
the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporters May Contact:
Don Vecchiarello, Bank of America,