A welcome sign of confidence in the recovering economy is a rise in small business optimism, which rose to its highest level since late last year, The National Federation of Independent Business said. In fact, the Federation says its Small Business Optimism Index increased by 2.6 points to 92.1, the highest level since last October.
Nearly half of this gain is being attributed to small business owners’ confidence that business conditions will continue to improve in the next half-year. Respondents also expressed increased optimism about job creation and sales, but one surprise revelation attributing to business confidence had to do with the physical health and emotional well-being of business owners and their employees.
Bank of America released its spring 2013 Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study that looks at small business owners nationwide and their issues, goals, and perspectives. The survey discovered that 53 percent of small business owners report that they have seen an improvement in their personal health, which they attribute to their running a business. Most of the small business owners surveyed—85 percent—say that they have taken some steps to help increase the happiness of their employees.
The correlation between improved well-being and the financial health of a company is noteworthy and the trend seems promising. Robb Hilson, Small Business executive at Bank of America says, “We’re encouraged by the insights found in our most recent report.”
In fact, the report found that small business owners are working on their firms’ financial health as well as their personal health with business owners saying they are getting more regular sleep and exercise, better nutrition, and more time with family and friends. Business owners say they are more successful at achieving a satisfactory work-life balance, which is typically cited as among their greatest challenges, and are able to pass that along to their employees.
Just about half of the small business owners responding to the survey said that they provide some type of home-work option that involves, for instance a flexible work schedule or work-from-home scheduling. Some business owners say they provide holistic benefits such as massages or healthy snack foods. Others report passing along discounts on services or products, and some offer events and excursions or volunteer and community service opportunities.
“It’s important to be flexible when it comes to our employees,” says Bank of America customer, George Montilio. Mr. Montilio is a third-generation baker and president of Montilio’s Baking Company, which is based in Massachusetts. “We provide very competitive compensation and offer benefits that make sense for us as a business, such as employee discounts.”
Reuters pointed out that, financially, although January tax hikes and federal budget cuts impacted economic growth, the U.S. Federal Reserve has ensured that interest rates have remained exceptionally low, which has helped boost small business growth. Falling gasoline prices have also offered some all-around financial help to the economy.
“Many small business owners are saying they have the right amount of capital,” which Hilson says is “one aspect of financial health.” Whatever combination of effects that is sparking the good feelings, small business owners say they are so optimistic about their own revenue that about one-third plan on increasing staff over the next year, while half fully expect to see increases in revenue.
Lange, Jason. Reuters, “Small Business Optimism Rises to Six-Month High“. 5/14/13.
Bank of America Newsroom, “Spring Bank of America Small Business Owner Report Examines Personal, Financial and Employee Wellness Within Small Businesses“. 5/29/13.