(BPT) - In the past two years, small business owners have been forced to reimagine their entire business model and pivot their operations to survive pandemic social distancing and shutdowns. Recovery and growth are now top of mind, according to a new Chase Small Business survey, as nearly half of U.S. small business owners (48%) feel more upbeat about their business since the beginning of this year, and 73% feel optimistic about their long-term future.
Ahead of Small Business Week, Chase surveyed 1,000 small business owners to understand their financial and business priorities after two years of uncertainty, and how they planned to manage current economic volatility, like inflation and a tightening labor market.
The new survey focused on four key areas that small business owners identified as critical to driving their business forward through the pandemic.
Access to capital - particularly during times of global and macroeconomic uncertainty - is essential for new and legacy small business owners to keep their business afloat. Rising wages, for example, continue to be a growing challenge for businesses who say their business is struggling to pay employees.
According to the survey, the majority of small business owners today (55%) strongly believe they have adequate access to new funding or credit should they need it. Aside from a traditional loan, business owners often use business credit cards to support their business. 53% of small business owners with a business credit card say it allows them to more closely monitor business expenses, and 45% look for good cash-back rewards. Nearly two-thirds of small business owners (64%) who have business credit cards rank cash-back rewards in their top three most important credit card benefits, more than 20 points higher than the next reward category.
Chase recently extended its popular Pay Yourself Back redemption categories to allow eligible Chase Ink cardmembers to redeem points worth as much as 25% more on business expenses related to internet, cable and phone services - categories small business owners are spending the most in right now.
2. Purpose and vision
Small business owners, new and experienced, find expert advice and mentorship increasingly important as they navigate ongoing inflation, workforce and supply chain challenges. Nearly three-quarters of small business owners (71%) are interested in mentorship to help run their business, and 65% say they are likely to work with a financial or business advisor in the next year.
Chase for Business recently reintroduced its Business Insights Series with expert speakers in 30 U.S. markets to help entrepreneurs outthink the competition, embrace uncertainty, improve customer loyalty and win sales. The bank also offers accessible education, coaching and technical assistance for minority entrepreneurs through one-on-one coaching in nearly 20 U.S. cities.
Voluntary and involuntary turnover created by a tightening labor market and changing workforce dynamics are challenging the stability of small business owners' workforces. Nearly seven in 10 small business owners cite a shortage of employees overall (67%) and shortage of employees with necessary skills (69%) as challenges.
To combat these challenges, approximately two-thirds of small business owners say they are likely to hire additional staff in the next year (65%), 64% are likely to expand benefits to their workforce, and 66% are likely to increase employee pay. About two-thirds say they are likely to hire additional staff (65%) and invest in training and development for their workforce (66%).
The key to the resilience of small business owners over the last 24 months has been their ability to be agile and nimble in an ever-changing marketplace. Many small business owners credit technology to help them adapt, with 60% strongly believing they have the right technology in place today to help their business run efficiently.
The pandemic fueled consumer demand for contactless, digital and speedier payments that continue to drive innovation in the payments industry. Whether it's payment processing, a new digital feature or customer insights, three in four small business owners (73%) plan to continue their investments in technology by implementing new tech in the year ahead.
To reduce the complexity of digital and contactless payments at point of sale. Chase Payments Solutions recently launched its Smart Terminal, which offers small business owners the flexibility to accept debit and credit card payments at the counter or when moving around their business.
'Small businesses are at the heart of every community. They create jobs and support their neighborhoods in good times and bad,' said Ben Walter, CEO of Chase Business Banking. 'We are inspired by their resilience, ingenuity and service to others, and are here to offer the support, solutions and service they need to thrive.'
During the month of May, to celebrate Small Business Week and beyond, Chase for Business plans to introduce new tools, offers and events for small business owners across its suite of products including Chase Business Checking, Chase Ink credit cards and Chase Payments Solutions.
To learn more about how Chase for Business is supporting the resiliency of small business owners, visit www.chase.com/smallbusinessweek.