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2015

Spring-SBOR-Thumb.gifDespite challenges, small business owners are still optimistic about the future, embracing self-sacrifice while prioritizing employees and customer relationships.


Seven years after the Great Recession began, two-thirds (64%) of small business owners report their businesses are still in the process of recovering, according to Bank of America’s spring 2015 Small Business Owner Report. The report, based on a semiannual survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, says that only one in five (21%) small businesses state they have completely recovered from the recession.

 

However, despite these lingering impacts from the Great Recession, small business owners are still confident about the future growth of their businesses.

 

“Small business owners are optimistic about the future and are working extremely hard to achieve success,” said Robb Hilson, Small Business executive. “As they have focused on recovery, many business owners have embraced a mindset of self-sacrifice. They are prioritizing their employees and customers above all else and it is often at the expense of their own personal or financial well-being.”

 

The report also found that small business owners have been working long hours, forgoing raises and delaying their own compensation as they focus on investing in employees, and attracting and rewarding repeat customers.

 

Investing in employees

 

When it comes to their employees, small business owners overwhelmingly find the need to reward them and show their appreciation in a variety of ways. Almost all small business owners (94%) surveyed say their companies have employee appreciation programs.


Celebrate-Article-Vert-sm.gifIn addition to appreciation programs, small business owners are investing in helping their employees perform better and grow in their careers. “Small business owners are seeking more support through lending than they did a year ago. Citing difficulty in locating qualified candidates, small business owners’ number one priority for using loan capital is training and developing existing staff,” Robb said.


Strengthening customer relationships

 

Establishing relationships with customers is a primary driver of repeat business, and small business owners are showing their appreciation to their customers in a variety of ways. More than half (57%) of the survey respondents feel they receive repeat business because of the relationships they have developed with their customer base. This sentiment is even stronger among Baby Boomer owners (71%) compared with 47% of Millennials and 53% of Gen Xers.

 

Click here to download the full Bank of America Small Business Owner Report in PDF format.


SP_Veteran_Resources_body.jpgby MeLinda Schnyder.

 

Taxpayers fund between $600 billion and $800 billion to recruit, train, equip, and deploy the U.S. military, according to Sean McIntosh, executive director of The Bunker Kansas City, part of a national program that offers education, mentorship, and access to funding for veteran entrepreneurs. “Our highly-trained, stress-tested, and experienced military veterans are a by-product of that investment,” he says. “They should be re-purposed as job creators.”

 

If you’re one of the nearly 250,000 service members transitioning to civilian life this year and are considering working for yourself, there are many resources available locally, regionally, and nationally. The U.S. Small Business Administration website is an excellent resource for all entrepreneurs, but here are seven programs specifically aimed at veterans:

 

1. Veterans Business Outreach Centers

The SBA’s Veterans Business Outreach Program has 16 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement to provide development services such as business training; counseling and mentoring; and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. Check the website for VBOC locations and areas of coverage.

 

2. America’s Small Business Development Centers

In its 35th year, the Small Business Development Center program includes 63 state and regional SBDC networks at nearly 1,000 locations. The centers provide free one-on-one consulting to small businesses, from business plan development to manufacturing assistance to financial packaging and lending assistance. The program is a public-private partnership in cooperation with the SBA.

 

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3. Veteran Fast Launch Initiative

For more than 45 years, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) has offered mentoring and training to entrepreneurs through its network of 13,000 volunteers. The SCORE Foundation partnered with major corporations to create Veteran Fast Launch Initiative, combining the counseling and education with free software and services to help accelerate the start-up process for veterans and their families.

 

4. The Bunker

The Bunker targets existing veteran-owned tech startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, helping to launch and accelerate their businesses. There are seven chapters nationwide—all run by veterans—that accept applicants for a six-month training pipeline, bringing together companies, mentors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Find affiliate locations on the website.

 

5. American Dream University

This non-profit offers a free online course to help veterans decide if starting a business is for them. Advanced programming includes free events on bases across the world featuring tools and speakers who are entrepreneurs, leaders, and trailblazers and have volunteered their time to help veterans transition.

 

6. Patriot Boot Camp

Patriot Boot Camp’s intensive three-day events offer training in entrepreneurial and business skills, as well as mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and military and business leaders. Vets and their spouses can attend at no cost in locations across the country.

 

7. Operation Boots to Business

Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. The curriculum includes steps for evaluating business concepts, the foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources available to help access start-up capital and additional technical assistance.

 

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

Thank-You-Thumb.gifYou work around the clock and life can move pretty fast. Which is why we just want to stop and say how much we appreciate all you’ve done for the economy.


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Note:  We're celebrating small business all month long.  As a small thank you, we’ve compiled our newest and most popular content for you here.

Military.jpgIf you are one of the nearly 250,000 service members transitioning to civilian life this year, veteran business owners want you to know that your skills could transfer to being your own boss. According to the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), more than 3 million men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces have started their own small businesses after their military service. NaVOBA calls them vetrepreneurs.

 

NaVOBA analysis shows veterans are twice as likely to own a business as non-veterans. More data—this from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University—shows that the success rate of veteran-owned business startups is almost twice that of other business startups.

 

Click here to download the pdf.

Then-Now-Thumb.gifLife moves pretty fast. And a lot has changed recently, especially in terms of technology and business. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how things have evolved.

 

Click here to view the infographic.

 

 

Note: We're celebrating small business all month long.  As a small thank you, we’ve compiled our newest and most popular content for you here.

SP_Ways_To_Become_More_Sustainable_body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

Small businesses that adopt green policies and procedures can often come out ahead in two essential ways. First, they reduce their environmental impact and conserve precious natural resources. Second, they can boost their bottom line and enhance their standing among customers. Surveys of small business owners that offer green products and services show an uptick in sales and higher customer loyalty.

 

Although making your business greener can seem overwhelming, experts say to start small and then tackle bigger changes. Simply Green Solutions, an Ellenton, Florida-based project management services firm that helps businesses go green, offers these suggestions:

 

1. Use recycling bins

Put out containers for recyclable items—such as glass, paper, and aluminum—in a convenient location in your company. Post instructions on how to use them and reminders throughout the building.

 

2. Use eco-friendly cleaners

Harsh detergents can add potentially harmful chemicals to the water supply, as well as irritate skin, eyes, and lungs. Choose natural, non-toxic cleansers that are easy on the environment and on people. (You'll be amazed at what you can do with ordinary household items like vinegar and lemons.)

 

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3. Turn off the power

Save electricity and cut your energy bill by shutting down your computers at the end of the day, as well as non-essential lighting, machinery, and equipment. To make the task more efficient, take an inventory of your operation, put together a checklist of everything that can be switched off, and give someone on your team the responsibility for executing it.    

 

4. Find new life for your old equipment

The amount of e-waste—such as computers, cell phones, and monitors—is staggering. Landfills are overflowing with castoffs that can also unleash toxic elements into the environment. When you upgrade to new models, take your old equipment and donate it to a non-profit. They'll appreciate the offer and you might be eligible for a tax write-off. In instances where equipment can't be reused, give it to a reputable recycler that follows proper protocols.

 

5. Decorate your office with plants

We may take them for granted sometimes, but plants are one of the best ways to help your business operate efficiently and cleanly. Plants scrub the air, minimizing amounts of dust and other particulate matter. They also help to regulate indoor heat and humidity levels, and release oxygen for a healthier working situation.

 

Taking simple steps like these can have a measurable impact on the environment and your wallet—that’s truly going green.

 

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

 

Millennials-Thumb.jpgWith the economy mostly healed from the recent recession, more millennials are choosing to forge their own path in the business world. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a joint venture between Babson College and London Business School, 18 percent of Americans age 25 to 34 launched or ran a small business in 2014, compared to 15 percent in 2013.

 

The traits that define the typical millennial—idealistic, confident, environmentally conscious, self-absorbed, creative—coincidentally lend themselves to entrepreneurship. Add a little tech savvy and the exuberance of youth, and you have the demographic potential to redefine the small business community and the economy overall.

 

Click here to read the full article (PDF).



Note: We're celebrating small business all month long.  As a small thank you, we’ve compiled our newest and most popular content for you here.


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