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Small Business More Optimistic

Eighty-Seven Percent Say Their Company Will Grow Over the Next Year with More Investment Expected in Technology, Equipment, Online Marketing and Social Media
Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.19.16 AMSan Diego, CA, May 6, 2014 – According to the third-annual California Bank & Trust Small Business survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents (86%) felt that their business was moving in the right direction with 87% expecting growth over the next year and 65% expecting growth of 5% or more over the next 12 months. Additionally, 63% of respondents expected growth to increase year-over-year. Interestingly, the Los Angeles region is slightly more bullish than the Bay Area and San Diego, with 43% of small business owners expecting a growth rate of more than 10% over the next 12 months compared to 38% in the Bay Area and 26% in the San Diego region.
California Bank & Trust fielded its third-annual benchmark survey to gauge the thoughts and opinions of California’s small business owners. More than 680 small business owners throughout the state of California shared their opinions during the survey conducted in April 2014.
California Bank & Trust also surveyed small businesses on current regulatory and environmental conditions and the impact of these circumstances on their business. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) in this year’s survey said the Affordable Care Act has had a neutral or positive impact on their business. In addition, 72% of small businesses said the rise in the minimum wage would have a neutral or positive effect on their business while 59% said the drought would have no affect on their business.
“What our 2014 small business survey illustrates is that many California small businesses are in a unique position to capitalize on growth opportunities and weather larger macroeconomic changes,” said Tory Nixon, Executive Vice President, Small Business Lending, California Bank & Trust. “Small businesses are shrugging off these regulatory changes and environmental concerns and are quite optimistic about the future growth of their business.”
“The growth rates echo what we are experiencing with our banking businesses throughout California,” added Nixon. “We are seeing increased demand across the board for commercial and small business lending, cash management, international banking, merchant services, online and mobile banking and wealth management services. This activity underscores an increased need for capital to support the growth plans of small businesses.”
Additional highlights from the survey include:
Areas of Investment. Small businesses are planning to make significant capital investments over the next 12 months. Eighty-four percent of small businesses surveyed are planning to invest more or the same amount in technology over the next 12 months, just over 70% in both online marketing and equipment, and 66% in social media.
Hiring. More than half of small businesses surveyed plan to hire additional employees in 2014. Ninety-two percent plan to hire 1-10 additional workers with one-quarter or 25% of this group planning to hire 5-10 employees.
E-Commerce & Online Presence. An online presence continues to be significant for small businesses throughout the State. Ninety-six percent of respondents have a website, just over 60% currently use digital marketing techniques to promote their business and over 52% said an e-commerce online presence was “extremely important” or “very important.” Interestingly, when asked the primary source of sales growth, an overwhelming majority (74%) said traditional sales.
Social Media. Nearly 60% of respondents maintain a social media presence for their business and 34% are increasing their investment in this communication medium.
Succession Planning. Almost 90% of those surveyed have a succession plan in place, saying they would pass on their business to a friend or family member (30%), sell business to employees (16%) and sell their business to the highest bidder (43%).
Financing. Close to 35% of small businesses surveyed are expected to need financing over the next 12 months with 49% saying that bank loans are their primary source of funding.
Banking. The most common usage of online banking includes accessing account information/resources (78%) and conducting transactions (67%). In addition, “competitive rates,” “customer service” and “payment and term options” were the most important factors when looking for a loan provider, above “industry knowledge”, “regional knowledge” and well beyond “government backing.”
International Sales. Thirty-eight percent of California small businesses derive sales from international markets with 9% saying international markets accounted for over 25% of their sales.
“The comprehensive results of our survey showcase a clearly different environment in California for small businesses than 2013,” added Nixon. “Businesses are optimistic, expect healthy grow rates, are making capital investments and leveraging new technologies to market and sell their products

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