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18 Posts authored by: Bank of America SB Team

Learn how eight women found entrepreneurial success, their impact on society and the challenges they faced building their businesses. Although no two women have the same journeys, their collective advice creates five important insights into women owned businesses:


  • People and culture: The women entrepreneurs profiled focused on people – employees, vendors and customers – as much as on the business itself. They tried to create company cultures that helped people reach their full potential.030918_womens_ent_hero[1].jpg


  • Education, experience and a little luck: Many think entrepreneurship starts with a business idea, but there is more to it than that. The women entrepreneurs profiled earned degrees and gained business experience that helped them identify a societal or cultural shift, gap or unfilled need that, in turn, guided their business model.


  • Access to capital: A key theme that emerged for all was the importance of accessing capital. Only two of the women profiled sought equity investors. Six self-funded their businesses, wanting to keep their autonomy and maintain their people-focused culture.


  • Resiliency and optimism: The women interviewed showed that launching a company requires both optimism and resilience. They all faced and overcame adversity, but were similarly hard-wired with an understanding that setbacks were just part of the journey.


  • The importance of women’s leadership: All of the women profiled who started their careers in the 1970s said that having had more female colleagues would have made their paths to success less arduous. Consequently, all of them support younger women, both in business and in their communities.




Hispanic Small Business Owners Confident about the Future


Hispanic Small business entrepreneurs are confident the business climate will prove favorable in the decade ahead, according to the second annual Bank of America Business Advantage 2018 Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (PDF).



Bank of America surveyed nearly 400 Hispanic business owners across America to shine a light on the aspirations and concerns of this growing segment, and to examine the similarities and differences that exist when compared to non-Hispanic peers. For instance, Hispanic entrepreneurs feel a greater sense of confidence at both the local and national level when compared to their non-Hispanic contemporaries. This optimism is long-term, with most small business owners surveyed responding that the next decade will see ongoing prosperity.


Additional highlights include a focus on employee retention:

  • 81% of Hispanic business owners believe the ability to attract and retain quality employees positively impacts their business growth
  • 30% of Hispanic Business owners made it a goal to invest in their employees over the last two years – compared to 14% of non-Hispanic business owners


For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Bank of America Business Advantage 2018 Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (PDF).

Economic Confidence, Revenues Surge for Small Businesses


SBOR-Chart.gifSmall business entrepreneurs are confident revenues for 2017 will top last year and that 2018 promises to be even better, according to the Fall 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report (PDF).


In the semi-annual survey of 1,000 business owners, nearly three-quarters say 2017 year-end revenue will surpass last year’s figures. Similarly, economic confidence is strong heading into 2018 as nearly half of business owners expect their local economy and the national economy to improve.


  • 71% of small business owners are optimistic that their 2017 year-end revenue will surpass 2016 business revenue
  • 16% plan to hire more employees, 70% of which plan to hire full-time employees


For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Fall 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report here.

By Jill Calabrese Bain


Bank of America has a long history with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) – both with the national chapter and more than 50 local chapters from coast to coast – and has been the presenting sponsor of its annual conference for the past five years.


Jill-Calabrese-Bain-NAWBO.pngFrom Oct. 15-17, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join fellow Bank of America teammates at NAWBO’s annual conference. More than 800 women gathered in Minneapolis to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of an organization that is the voice for more than 10.1 million female business owners nationwide. During an empowering and inspiring few days, we heard from notable speakers such as Erin Brockovich and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, as well as a diverse and knowledgeable group of business owners.


This year’s conference theme of ‘together we dare’ really stuck with me. We know that it takes tremendous heart to be a woman business owner. You must dare to follow your dreams. You must dare to be bold and take risks. And, my favorite, you must dare to fail. Above all, you must dare to succeed.


We know that women are succeeding! Women have made significant strides in the upward climb toward equal opportunity in the workforce and in business. We’re slowly but surely chipping away at the gender pay gap. And, according to our latest Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight study, women business owners are feeling more optimistic that we’re on track to level the playing field in the next 20 years when it comes to these four things: pay equity, executive leadership, representation in the STEM fields and, yes, small business ownership.


During the conference, I met with women from the United States and around the globe – daring women linked by their willingness to blaze their own trails and strive for excellence. One of my favorite breakout sessions focused on “daring leadership,” and we heard from women entrepreneurs who have annual revenues exceeding the $1 million mark. The four panelists hailed from a wide range of organizations – a staffing company, niche cookie company, law firm and international branding/multi-media company. Despite their varied backgrounds, their advice was the same – engage experts, stay true to your core strengths (even if it means watching business walk out the door), always trust your intuition, and don’t be afraid to take risks.


It was amazing to see such extraordinary women daring to succeed each day by being leaders in their businesses, communities, and role models for future generations of female entrepreneurs.


I’m beyond proud of Bank of America and my teammates who support women entrepreneurs day in and day out. And that was really at the heart of NAWBO’s annual conference. We are all here to support the missions of all women who have dared to dream… dared to be bold… and dared to succeed – despite the odds.

According to the second annual Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, female entrepreneurs envision significant strides for women in the workforce over the next 20 years, with a majority believing that women will match or exceed men in a number of areas.


Business-Woman.gifTo learn more about women business owners’ specific insights, Bank of America surveyed 1,000 small business owners across the country, focusing on aspirations and concerns regarding the economy, empowerment and opportunity.


“The rules of business are changing, and women entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the transformation. They have articulated an inspiring vision for the small business community over the next 20 years — one of equal pay, leadership opportunities and greater support for those with families,” said Sharon Miller, head of Small Business. “Within the context of a growing economy, this bodes incredibly well for the future of women in business.”


Shattering the glass ceiling

According to the survey, women entrepreneurs expect big cracks in the glass ceiling — the proverbial barrier to advancement — over the next 20 years.

  • 80% of female entrepreneurs foresee greater or equal representation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields compared to men in STEM.
  • 68% believe women will match or exceed men in executive leadership role representation.
  • 66% believe there will be more women-owned small businesses compared to those owned by men.
  • 61% believe their wages will be equal to or greater than those of men.



Striking the right work-life balance

The Spotlight also explored the struggles of achieving a work-life balance, finding that while many women entrepreneurs experience long hours, a large majority actually feel they have a good balance between their work and home lives.


They’re also enjoying their work, primarily describing their average week as interesting, fulfilling and enjoyable. However, fewer believe they have achieved this balance compared to their male counterparts.




Growing optimism about the economy

Download the full report

Women small business owners have shown significant increases in optimism toward the economy improving in the year ahead — including confidence in their local economy (45% in 2017 vs. 37% in 2016), the national economy (44% in 2017 vs. 25% in 2016) and the global economy (32% in 2017 vs. 16% in 2016).


Despite the substantial boost in economic confidence, the number of women small business owners who plan to grow their business over the next five years has declined (54% in 2017 vs. 60% in 2016), as has the number of women anticipating a revenue increase over the next 12 months (44% in 2017 vs. 54% in 2016).


“The data we collect through this survey helps Bank of America better serve this important client segment not only with their small business relationships, but also with all their financial needs,” Sharon said.


For internal use only:  The information and material contained on this Web page is proprietary to Bank of America and is not to be distributed outside of Bank of America.

Small Business Confidence in the Economy Jumps 22 Percent in Six Months

Revenue Outlook and Intent to Borrow Remain Flat, while Hiring Plans Sink to Five-year Low


Yoobi Video

U.S. small business owners’ confidence in the economy has increased significantly from just six months ago, according to the spring 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report, which found that economic confidence ranks among the highest levels recorded in the last five years. The report, based on a semi-annual survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, reveals that a majority of entrepreneurs (53 percent) are confident the national economy will improve over the next 12 months – up a staggering 22 percentage points from just six months ago. Similarly, small business owners’ confidence in their local economy improving jumped to 51 percent from 37 percent in fall 2016.


For additional insights, see the Small Business Owner Report infographic below.  For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the spring 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report here.


Women small business owners are feeling more optimistic about annual revenue and growth expectations than their male counterparts, according to the inaugural Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, a study based on a survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, focusing on the aspirations and pain points of women business owners.





Click here to download a PDF version of this infographic.

Thumb2.pngAs a business owner, you may frequently face the challenge of balancing your business needs with your individual needs. And more often than not, the business needs likely get more attention. But did you know a business retirement plan can help meet both your business needs and your individual needs, as well as those of your employees?

Click here to download the Small Business Retirement Solutions Reference Guide (PDF).

Main Street Is Open for Business: Bank of America Survey Reveals Strong Economic Outlook Among Small Business Owners

Small Business Owner Optimism and Confidence in the Economy Is at Its Highest Level Since 2012


SBOR-Fall-Thumb2.gifAmerica’s small businesses are gearing up for growth. According to the fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small business optimism is at its highest since the survey’s inception in 2012, with expectations for revenue growth and plans to hire hitting a three-year high.


The report, based on a semi-annual survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, revealed that 72 percent expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months, compared with 62 percent a year ago. In addition, more small businesses expect to increase staffing, with 67 percent planning to hire more employees over the next 12 months, up significantly from 51 percent in the fall of 2014 and 31 percent in the fall of 2013.


Confidence in the local, national and global economies rose as well:

  • Sixty-two percent expressed optimism for their local economies (a 12 percentage point rise year over year).
  • Fifty-six percent expressed optimism for the national economy (an 11 percentage point rise year over year).
  • Forty-five percent expressed optimism for the global economy (a 14 percentage point rise year over year).


This optimism was seen even as small business owners expressed apprehension over the 2016 presidential election, minimum wage hikes and an increase in interest rates, as more than one-third of those surveyed expressed concern that these factors could impact their business in 2016.


“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in optimism among small business owners in the economy, revenue growth and hiring,” said Robb Hilson, Bank of America Small Business executive. “Even with instability in the global markets and the uncertainty they have about the upcoming election, small business owners are confident and ready to expand their businesses. They are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and we commend them for their entrepreneurial spirit and stamina through a challenging economic time.”


Not surprisingly, this expected growth demands more capital. More than one in three small business owners (35 percent) say they will apply for a loan in 2016, an 11 percentage point increase over one year ago. 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 percent in the last 12 months, rising from 29 to 44 percent.


Small business owners embrace workplace 2.0

The workplace culture of the traditional small business appears to be changing, as working environments become more technology-oriented and flexible. For example, most small business owners (88 percent) say that technology is helping them better serve customers, and half have invested in new technology over the past five years to better connect with employees. Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) report that they are investing in technology upgrades one or more times per year.


Callout2.gifForty-seven percent of small business owners are now offering telecommuting options – a 12 percentage point jump from five years ago. Most small business owners report a positive impact from this shift, including a better attitude in employees (59 percent) and increased productivity (54 percent). However, some small business owners expressed concerns that telecommuting makes employees unreliable or inaccessible (34 percent), or harder to trust (33 percent).


Employee benefits are also changing, with small businesses taking a page out of the startup book by offering perks like areas to relax or unwind such as nap pods and game rooms (20 percent), pet-friendly work environments (11 percent) or onsite gyms and fitness classes (8 percent).


Small businesses prepare for cyber-attacks as holiday season draws near

As technology advances, so do cybersecurity threats. More than one in 10 (12 percent) small business owners report that they have been the victim of a cybersecurity breach. With technology being so prevalent, more than half (59 percent) have expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data, and 66 percent report they have taken measures to be prepared for a cyber-attack.


These measures may pay off during the holiday shopping season. Small business owners expect a boost to their business bottom line during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, even more so than a year ago, with 31 percent expecting Black Friday to provide a bump in sales in 2015 (compared to 17 percent in 2014), and 43 percent expecting Cyber Monday to have an impact on their business’ bottom line, compared to 29 percent one year ago.


Local insights across the country

The report also analyzed the mindset of small business owners in nine local markets across the country. Key insights gathered include:


  • Like their national counterparts, most small business owners in a number of markets are planning for growth over the next five years. Small business owners in Washington, D.C. (81 percent), Miami (80 percent) and Dallas/Fort Worth (78 percent) plan to grow their business over the next five years. Additionally, small business owners in Atlanta (73 percent), San Francisco (71 percent) and Metro New York (70 percent) expect their revenues to increase in the next year.


  • Optimism in an improving local economy followed the national trend within local markets as Washington, D.C. (65 percent), Dallas/Fort Worth (63 percent) and Boston (52 percent) small business owners are feeling increasingly confident in their local economy compared to one year ago. In fact, Los Angeles was the only market surveyed where local small business owners were less confident that their local economy would improve over the next 12 months (53 percent, versus 62 percent in fall 2014).


  • Small business owners across all markets, including Chicago (44 percent), Washington, D.C. (42 percent) and Los Angeles (41 percent), agree with their national counterparts that their workplace has become more tech-focused over the past five years. In addition, San Francisco (50 percent) and Washington, D.C. (47 percent) small business owners feel that their workplace has become more collaborative.


For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the entire fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (PDF), and for additional insights, download a PDF version of the Small Business Owner Report national infographic here.

By Joe DiNicola, Bank of America Practice Solutions Executive


Small business owners seemingly have endless decisions to make, whether they are getting their businesses off the ground or taking them to the next stage. With growth comes questions about how to staff and fund expansion, as well as when is the right time to pursue a loan. If it is the right time for your business, now more than ever there are a lot of options when it comes to getting the capital you need for your business. According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a growing number of small business owners applied for a traditional bank loan in the last year (24 percent), but nine percent turned to alternative funding sources.

There’s a lot to consider when deciding how to secure the capital necessary for your business, but with the right people and resources, it isn’t as daunting as you might think. I recently participated in a Google Hangout to discuss the current small business lending environment and what entrepreneurs should consider before borrowing. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

  1. Ask for help. Mentorship is a critical component when preparing for the capital phase. Find out what worked for established peers whom you trust. Additionally, consider enlisting a CPA to help you in the process - according to the Small Business Owner Report, 73 percent of respondents sought an accountant or bookkeeper for financial advice.
  2. Negotiate financing. You always have the ability to negotiate deal terms, pricing or structure. Generally, you’ll have more room to negotiate if your FICO score is above 700. Whatever deal you strike, stay true to a payment plan that you can manage based on the cash flow of your business.
  3. Keep a potential interest rate hike in perspective. We don’t know when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, but it is just a matter of time. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; higher interest rates are often a sign of a strengthening economy. Additionally, the increase will probably have little impact on your payments. How you choose to allocate the capital you receive is more important than a rise in interest rates. 

You can view the full discussion with myself, USA TODAY columnist Steve Strauss and tax and finance expert Barbara Weltman, moderated by CNBC contributor Carol Roth, by clicking here.

Video Replay of the Live Google Hangout: Finding Talent and Balance



Welcome to the Small Business Social Series sponsored by Bank of America. This panel will explore the sacrifices and commitments small business owners make to their employees and customers as they work towards growth. Topics include findings from our May Small Business Owner Report, employee training and development, and how small business owners can find the balance between success and self-sacrifice.

The panel was moderated by Steve Strauss, and you will hear from:

  • Jill Calabrese Bain, Bank of America Managing Director and Small Business Banking National Sales Executive
  • Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media &
  • Nikhil Arora, Back to the Roots Co-founder

Jill-Headshot_SM.pngBy Jill Calabrese Bain


Last month I participated in a Google Hangout with Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBiz Daily; Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots; and USA TODAY senior small business columnist Steve Strauss entitled, “Small Business Success: Finding Talent and Balance.”  During our 30-minute discussion, the panelists shared their experiences making sacrifices for their business and offered advice for small business owners looking to find the balance between self-sacrifice and success.


Small business owners are very dedicated to their businesses, with a strong drive to succeed no matter what it takes. In fact, the Bank of America spring 2015 Small Business Owner Report found that 67 percent of small business owners would delay or reduce their own pay before taking any other action, including laying off employees or reducing employees’ compensation. However, a few sacrifices we commonly see entrepreneurs taking may be unnecessary—and could do more harm than good.

  • Trying to do it all by yourself. Many small business owners are saying it’s difficult to find qualified job candidates with realistic salary expectations, and therefore take on more work themselves. Consider investing in training and development for your current team; your employees will feel appreciated; and having happy employees often leads to happier clients. Additionally, better trained resources will free up more time for you to think strategically about your business and future growth opportunities.

  • Sacrificing personal finances.  According to the spring report, more than a third (35 percent) of small business owners have carried business costs on a personal credit card. In addition, 29 percent have taken out a personal loan. If you fall behind on payments, you could jeopardize your personal credit, affecting your ability to achieve personal and business financial success. Resources are available. Consider consulting with your accountant, small business banker, or other trusted advisor, to help manage through the options.

  • Failing to reward yourself and recharge. Nearly all (94 percent) small business owners from our survey reported that they offer employee appreciation programs, including team outings, office recognition and extra time off. However, more than half of small business owners we surveyed said that they haven’t given themselves a raise in more than two years…or ever! You would never ask your employees to work 40+ hours without a pay increase or vacation, so don’t ask yourself to do so either. Allow yourself time to recharge. Whether it’s a short vacation or taking time each week to exercise or socialize, it’s important to invest in yourself!

All small business owners know they must make sacrifices for their business from time-to-time. However, make sure you are thoughtful about which sacrifices you do make in order to give yourself and your business the best chance for long term success.  For additional thoughts on these topics and more, you can watch a recorded replay of the Google Hangout. Check it out by clicking here.

Robb-Hilson3.pngBy Robb Hilson


We recently released the spring 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semiannual study that uncovers the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners around the country.


We’re happy to say that confidence in the economy remains steady compared with one year ago. In addition, two-thirds (66 percent) of small business owners are optimistic about the growth of their businesses over the next five years. Sixty-four percent of small business owners, however, note that their businesses are still recovering from the “Great Recession” of 2008. Most have yet to reach a full recovery.


One of the notable findings of the survey is the tendency of small business owners to be self-sacrificing, putting the needs of employees above their own. Sacrifices include accumulating personal debt or delaying their own compensation, versus laying off employees or delaying employee compensation.


Employee appreciation programs are widespread and offered by nearly all (94 percent) of small business owners. Popular forms of expressing appreciation include team outings, spot bonuses, office recognition and extra time off. Small business owners also favor customer appreciation programs, feeling that repeat business stems from strong customer relationships. This sentiment is strongest among Baby Boomer owners.


Bank of America appreciates the tremendous contributions that small business owners make to the U.S. economy, which is why we’ve planned several special events throughout our “Small Business Month” of May. We’re hoping not only to honor small business owners but also to provide useful insights and expertise through special product offers and local events. In San Francisco, we’re proud to celebrate small business owners by being a presenting sponsor of San Francisco Small Business Week, taking place May 16-22.


We’ll also be hosting a Google Hangout on May 20 to discuss some of the themes that have emerged from our spring 2015 Small Business Owner Report. Panelists for the Hangout include Jill Calabrese Bain, Managing Director and Small Business Banking National Sales Executive, Preferred & Small Business Banking for Bank of America; Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media &; and Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots. USA TODAY columnist and small business expert Steve Strauss will moderate. We hope you’ll tune in by checking out the Bank of America Google+ page Wednesday, May 20, at 8pm ET.

Robb-Hilson3.pngAs the youngest Baby Boomers turn 50, Gen-Xers mature into middle age and Millennials charge into the working world, the small business community is feeling a shift in the way business is done. Among these generations, there are notable differences in attitude, management style and skillsets. But how do these variances affect the way entrepreneurs run their business and influence the economy?


Here at Bank of America, we focused on these generational differences in the fall iteration of our bi-annual Small Business Owner Report, which examines the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners (SBOs) across the country. The overall findings of the report will be explored in January’s Bank of America Small Business Social Series Google+ Hangout. Here are some of the key findings we’ll delve into:


Millennials are the most optimistic about their business’s revenue and the economy

It likely comes as no surprise that the youngest generation, Millennial SBOs, have the greatest optimism about the economy. More than three-quarters predict their revenue will increase over the next 12 months and 82 percent believe their local economy will improve. Boomers expressed the least optimism, with 52 percent feeling positive about their companies’ revenue growth and 41 percent feeling optimistic about the local economy. Greater optimism from the younger generation may be the result of less exposure to cycles of economic downturn and fluctuations.


All generations see themselves as “tech savvy,” but the importance of tech varies

When grading themselves on tech-savviness, the Millennial generation leads the pack with 85 percent of young SBOs giving themselves an “A” or “B.” Gen-Xers followed closely behind at 74 percent, and Boomers trailed with 58 percent giving themselves high marks. When we asked how long SBOs could run their business without a smartphone or tablet, we found a big variance in response. Fifty-nine percent of Boomers said they could run their business indefinitely without a smartphone or tablet. Only 22 percent of Millennials could conceive of this, as well as 39 percent of Gen-Xers. In addition, nearly half of Millennials and Gen-Xers said it would be impossible to run their business without a smartphone or tablet for more than a day.


Millennial SBOs self-identify as creative and confident versus their dedicated and hard-working generational counterparts

While Millennial SBOs describe themselves as creative and confident, Gen Xers and Boomers see themselves as hardworking and dedicated. The differences in generational self-perception may not only affect the way small businesses are run, it could also influence the types of businesses opened in the future. 

Generations share some things in common

While SBOs may describe themselves differently, all tend to value a company culture that is focused on the customer. Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Millennials consistently emphasized the importance of a client-centric approach to business.


Despite the many ways SBOs approach their businesses, each plays an important role in the well-being of the small business community and the economy. As we’ve seen in our survey, new technology is helping small business owners run their companies more efficiently, maintain more control over their business and offer more complex products to customers. This creates more opportunities for small business owners to be successful, regardless of their generation.

For an in-depth look at generational differences between small business owners and the key findings of the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, please watch the video of our Small Business Social Series Hangout as the panel discusses the generational differences among U.S. small business owners and what this means for the small business landscape.

Video Replay of the Live Google Hangout: Exploring Generational Differences Among Small Businesses Owners



Welcome to this video replay of the Small Business Social Series sponsored by Bank of America.  The panel discusses the generational differences among U.S. small business owners and what this means for the small business landscape.  This discussion was moderated by Carol Roth.


In this video you will hear from:

  • Robb Hilson Small Business Executive,Bank of America
  • Dan Schawbel, Career & Workplace Expert
  • Steve Strauss, Small business columnist, USA Today

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