Business View Magazine | January 2021

9 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE JANUARY 2021 FIRST CITIZENS BANK FORECAST FINDS SMALL BUSINESSES OPTIMISTIC FOR LONG-TERM ECONOMIC OUTLOOK R esiliency fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit of small and medium-sized businesses RALEIGH, N.C.—The sixth annual First Citizens Bank Small Business Forecast has found that despite widely accepted uncertainties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many small business owners remain optimistic about the economic outlook for two to three years. Of those polled, 66% of respondents are optimistic or very optimistic for the long-term economic outlook, which remains on par with pre- pandemic sentiment from 2019 (68%). “This year has been challenging and unpredictable for the world, but our report shows that small business owners have not let the challenges of today impact their positive perception about our economic outlook,” said Doug Sprecher, director of sales strategy at First Citizens Bank. “The small business community shoulders a significant amount of responsibility and has continued to showcase its resiliency year-after-year. Our goal is to leverage this data to better equip business owners with the insights and counsel needed to plan for and achieve greater business performance in 2021 and beyond.” When compared to the near-term economic confidence, small business owners are less confident in the conditions for the next 12 months. Of those surveyed, 57% reported being confident or very confident in the United States’ near-term economic conditions. This is a significant decline from 2019, where 66% of respondents felt confident about the immediate economic outlook. Businesses with a history of less than 10 years (77%), those with more than 51 employees (86%) and business owners ages 18-34 (89%) are most confident in their ability to grow. This year, small business owners in California showed the steepest decline in near-term economic confidence with 49% (a 24% decrease from 2019) stating they were very or somewhat confident. Conversely, the outlook of their counterparts in Wisconsin (64%) and South Carolina (65%) remained relatively flat in year- over-year response to near-term economic conditions, indicating a steady confidence level about small business owners in these regions. Even with a decline in confidence over the next 12 months, the survey has found the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners indicates continued resiliency. Although 67% said their business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and 79% feel personally responsible for the financial stability of their employees, small business owners reported having more confidence in their ability to grow their business in 2021 (69%) than they do in the overall economic outlook for the U.S. (57%). OPENING L INES