301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

4.27.23 – CEPro

Study suggests 72% of small businesses are well equipped for recession, leveraging their financial assets and adopting efficiency tools.

How Are Other Businesses Preparing for the Potential Recession?

Small business owners were asked about topics including future plans, sustainability, employee retention and labor. Conducted in March and April, other findings include:

  • 79% of business owners raised prices over the last 12 months.
  • 53% added benefits and perks to retain talent.
  • 49% plan to use automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools for their business in 2023.
  • 34% believe the national economy will improve in the next 12 months.

“While the dual pressures of inflation and supply chain disruptions continue to incumber operations, small business owners remain bullish about their prospects for the year ahead,” said Sharon Miller, President of Small Business and Head of Specialty Banking and Lending at Bank of America. “Small businesses are poised for growth, implementing strategies to retain and attract talent and exploring new tools including artificial intelligence to gain an edge in a highly competitive market.”

Recession Concerns and Business Outlook 

Inflation (79%) and a potential recession (72%) top business owners’ concerns over the next 12 months. These entrepreneurs also expressed anxiety around commodities prices (68%), the U.S. political environment (68%), rising interest rates (67%) and supply chain (57%).

Despite these concerns, the bottom line remains strong for many entrepreneurs as they prepare for a recession. Fifty-six percent of business owners reported increased revenue in 2022 compared to 2021, and looking ahead at the next 12 months, 48% plan to expand their business (vs. 37% last spring). Additionally, 82% intend to obtain financing in the year ahead (vs. 70% last spring).

Retention Efforts and Hiring Plans 

Struggling with labor shortages and a competitive job market, business owners are increasingly focused on employee retention. Over the past 12 months, 53% have added additional benefits and perks to existing compensation packages, including remote/hybrid work (34%), cost-of-living bonuses (34%) and more vacation time (33%). And 75% of these business owners said their efforts meaningfully impacted employee morale and retention.

Additionally, 34% of business owners plan to hire in 2023, up from 26% last spring. Over the past 12 months, 51% implemented additional perks and benefits to attract new talent, such as increased base pay for new employees (54%), remote/hybrid work (30%), new employee training or resource groups (27%) and additional healthcare benefits (27%). 

Entrepreneurs Embrace Sustainability Despite Obstacles 

Three-in-four SBOs have already implemented sustainable business practices, such as reducing paper usage, establishing environmentally friendly habits in their work environment and working with sustainable vendors. While implementation challenges exist—82% of entrepreneurs cited challenges such as increased costs (49%), limited supplier options (29%) and variable quality of sustainable products/services (26%) as primary obstacles—78% of business owners plan to implement sustainable practices over the next 12 months.

Continued Digitization of Business Operations 

In the past year, 80% of small business owners adopted digital tools for their business, leveraging digital banking to manage their finances and social media to reach their customers. Business owners are also embracing AI and automation, with 49% planning to use AI tools to enhance their business in 2023.

Looking ahead, 55% of entrepreneurs anticipate accepting exclusively digital payments at some point in the future, and 90% say digital tools help make their operations more efficient, helping them save time and stay organized.