Small Business Owners Upbeat About Companies, Look to Expand

Small business owners are upbeat, looking to expand and worrying less about financial concerns like health costs.

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners are upbeat, looking to expand and worrying less about financial concerns like health costs.

That's the finding of a survey of 1,067 owners released last week by Bank of America. The survey shows owners are optimistic about the short and long term. Fifty-seven percent said they expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months, and 56 percent have plans to increase business over the next five years. Two-thirds said they're planning to expand in the coming year.

The survey also shows owners are less worried about health care costs than they were a year ago even as the price of insurance is still an issue for many. Sixty-three percent called health care a concern, compared to 72 percent a year ago. Owners were also less concerned about consumer spending, commodities prices, the strength of the dollar and minimum wage increases. But they were slightly more concerned about interest rates, not surprising considering that the Federal Reserve has raised rates four times in the past year.

The survey was conducted between late August and mid-September.

A separate survey by Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School showed small business demand for outside financing, including equity investments and loans, was down just over 11 percent from three months earlier. Just 27 percent of companies tried to raise outside financing in the past three months.

The drop in demand is likely due to the fact that companies are overall doing well. Fifty-five percent said they didn't seek financing because their cash flow is sufficient. Twenty-nine percent said they had enough financing in place.

Small businesses are becoming more successful in obtaining bank loans, another sign of their increasing health. Nearly 46 percent said they were successful in getting loans, up from nearly 44 percent three months earlier.

Looking ahead, only 28 percent of small businesses said they're planning to raise financing in the next six months, a sign that owners expect to keep doing well. Strong cash flow and sufficient financing were again cited as reasons why owners aren't seeking more money.

The survey questioned 878 business owners during October. The companies had revenue up to $100 million. The survey, which broke out some data according to company size, considers a small business to be one with no more than $5 million in revenue.

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