Business owners are feeling significantly better about the economy and their businesses than a year ago, according to a survey by SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Sixty-five percent of leaders at companies with annual revenue of $10-100 million indicate they feel better about their company’s financial well-being than last year. This is in contrast to study findings in 2012 when only 38 percent felt their companies were in a better financial state than the previous year.
Current financial priorities cited by business leaders include increasing revenue and profitability, reducing expenses, expanding market share and increasing customer satisfaction. To achieve these goals, companies are investing in new technology (59 percent), managing cash flow more effectively (51 percent), expanding into new domestic markets (49 percent) and working to hire/retain full-time employees (48 percent).
“Many businesses are expressing increased confidence with capital investment, hiring and expansion plans,” said Tom Kuntz, SunTrust’s Commercial & Business Banking executive.
In a comparable survey of small businesses, those with revenue of $1-10 million, 62 percent said their company’s financial well-being is better than last year. Thirty percent indicated their company’s financial well-being is about the same, and only eight percent said they feel worse about their company’s financial well-being than a year ago.
Top challenges cited by small businesses include an increase in operating costs (52 percent), new or evolving government regulation (38 percent), delayed payments from customers (36 percent), and changes to benefits they can offer employees (35 percent). Evolving technology, increased competition and changes to the tax structure also impacted the management of about a third of these small businesses this past year.
Decision-makers representing approximately 1,675 small and mid-size businesses participated in SunTrust’s survey. Half of the businesses surveyed agree that their primary bank has helped to improve their company’s financial well-being.
“Clearly more businesses today are looking for the right tools and investments to help them grow,” said Kuntz. “We work to understand the unique circumstances of small and mid-market businesses and tailor solutions to each client. For example, many businesses are now ready to invest in new technology or take actions to better manage cash flow. A financial institution can help with that game plan.”