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2015

What makes someone start a small business?

 

There are plenty of traits that go into being an entrepreneur, that’s for sure. For starters, if you want to start a business, you better have a lot of initiative. The fact of the matter is no one is going to tell you what to do, or what you should do, once you start your own business. You need to be able to come up with ideas and follow through on those ideas, all on your own.

 

Which leads to the next two required traits:

 

  • Creativity: When you read about entrepreneurship, this is an often overlooked trait, but in my experience, an essential one. It takes creativity to come up with a viable business idea, marketing plans, employee retention strategies, and all the rest.

 

  • Work ethic: Yes, we are all working very hard these days, but small business owners work that much harder. The willingness to put in the time necessary and to do whatever it is that is needed is one thing that distinguishes the successful small business owner.

 

Other things that go into the small business equation include willingness to live with uncertainty, risk-taking, and fortitude.

 

But I would suggest that the No. 1 requirement is confidence.

 

To leave your job that has the comfort of a regular paycheck and benefits, to use your money to come up with a vision and then move mountains to bring it to fruition requires one thing: Confidence. Confidence in yourself, confidence in those around you, and confidence in the economy as a whole are necessary to take the risks needed to create a startup.

 

That sort of entrepreneurial bullish confidence is one of the things that make this country great.

 

And it is just that sort of confidence that we see in the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. The SBOR is a fascinating survey. Twice a year since 2012, Bank of America has taken the pulse of 1,000 small business owners and come away with some really interesting results.

 

In the latest edition of the SBOR, we see small business confidence on display in spades. Consider these impressive stats:

 

  • Nearly eight in 10 (78%) of small business owners are reporting plans to grow their business over the next five years

 

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of small business owners say they expect their revenues to increase in the upcoming year

 

  • Millennials are the most optimistic generation, with 80% expecting an increase in revenues and 88% saying they planned on growing their businesses over the next five years. And Baby Boomers are the generation “least likely” to say they plan on growing their business. But still, the majority (56%) of them say they planned on doing so. What about Gen-Xers? They are a very confident lot too – 86% plan on growing their business in the next few years

 

Consider too this amazing statistic from the latest SBOR: “Small business owners’ confidence in the national economy rose 11% year-over-year, from 45% in 2014 to 56% in 2015, representing the highest increase since the inception of our survey in 2012.” (Emphasis added.)Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

Talk about confidence.

 

To me, the one thing that indicates whether a small business owner is truly confident relates to, not surprisingly, money. The willingness to take out a loan is the surest sign I know of that someone is confident in both themself as well as the economy as a whole. Entrepreneurship, after all, requires the willingness to take a risk with money to make money. If someone is truly willing to do that, he or she is truly an entrepreneur.

 

And once again, that is precisely what this edition of the SBOR indicates. “More small business owners intend to apply for a loan in 2016 than in previous years, with one in three (35%) indicating intent to apply for a loan in 2016, a considerable (11%) jump year over year. In addition, the number of small business owners who report they have applied for a loan in the past two years has increased by more than 50%in the last 12 months, rising from 29 to 44%.”

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

With loan applications expected to jump by a whopping 11% this year alone, and one in three small business owners intending to take on debt to grow their business, we are seeing this natural confidence of small business owners heading to new heights, and that’s good news for all of us.

 

Indeed, it’s great that small business owners tend to be a very confident group, but it’s even better that there’s a lot to be confident about these days.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

This is the time of year for making a list – and checking it twice!

 

Whether it is a list of gifts for the family or things you need to get done before festivities and vacations begin, making lists seems to be part and parcel of the holiday season. Yet, of all the lists you make this time of year, getting the digital side of your business in order should be at the top.

 

Why? Because with the holiday season, especially this e-holiday season, it’s shaping up to be the busiest ever. Cyber Monday is only a decade old, yet last year sales topped almost $3 billion, with the average order hitting $124 (source, Investopedia.)

 

According to the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small businesses are poised to benefit from the holiday shopping season this year. The SBOR found that 31% of entrepreneurs surveyed are expecting Black Friday to provide a bump in sales (compared with only 17% last year), and 43% are expecting Cyber Monday to follow that up with a positive impact on their bottom line (compared to only 29% last year).

 

So the question is not whether this holiday season is going to be a super busy one, rather the question is, are you prepared to take advantage of this unique moment?

 

Let me suggest that if you want to really be ready for the holidays, it would behoove you to make one more list, and get these things checked off in the next few weeks:

 

  1. 1. Make cybersecurity a priority: The Fall 2015 SBOR contained some fascinating results, including this digital nugget: More than one in 10 small business owners report having been the victim of a cybersecurity breach. Even more alarmingly, 59% expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data.

 

That is real cause for concern as we head into the holiday season because the online threat to your business is very real, too real. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute, “Cybercrimes [in 2015] are not decreasing. Rather, more crimes will be committed. Recovery [for the small business] will be painful and disruptive.”

 

What can you do? The easiest and best thing is to purchase a cybersecurity software suite. An online search will reveal numerous excellent, respected online cloud services that can protect your vital business info 24/7/365.

 

Get one today.

 

  1. 2. Give your website an audit: As the SBOR finds, with people increasingly shopping online, more and more are going to be visiting your website. Even if you don’t engage in e-commerce, folks will be finding you online. As such, it is incumbent upon you to make a great first impression when they get there.

 

What can you do?

 

  • Add some fresh content
  • Make and post a video or two
  • Update your About page – make it current, friendly
  • Take down and post some new pictures

 

Aside from simply making your site more attractive to customers, doing the above will have the added benefit of upgrading your site in the eyes of search engines.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


  1. 3. Hire a techie: In terms of technology and computers, too many small business owners plod along, getting by with computers that almost work right, cords that look too messy, websites that are a tad clumsy, spotty wireless connections, and all the rest. Especially during the busy holiday shopping season, you don’t want that.

 

And it is just so easy these days to get the tech help you need. For example, Craigslist in your area has a list of very affordable techies who can help you sort through your issues.

 

  1. 4. Try out a different social media platform: If you use Facebook, consider giving Twitter a try. If you use Twitter, check out Instagram. Potential new customers are out there on these different platforms.

 

You don’t have time or the ability to do that right now? That’s OK, that’s what interns and outsourcing are for. Again, a lot of people have mastered social media and they stand ready to help you.

 

The last bit of good news is that if you check just these few things off of your digital holiday to-do list, you will also be sure to be better prepared for managing the digital side of your business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

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