Findings & Tips for Region’s Business Owners
By: Chris Porro, Small Business Banking for Inland Empire, Bank of America
As counties continue to open up with help from vaccinations and declining COVID-19 rates, small business owners in the Inland Empire are slowly but surely regaining their footing after a uniquely challenging year. In fact, in the past year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent report by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) found San Bernardino County reclaimed 70 percent of jobs lost since last spring when the state ordered the closure of many business sectors, and that the Inland Empire have since reclaimed a higher percentage of jobs than Orange County, Los Angeles County and California as a whole.
New research from Bank of America shows business owners’ economic confidence and revenue expectations have bounced back significantly since last fall. We found that 60% of small businesses expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, and one-in-five business owners plan to hire. Nearly 80% attribute the confidence to increasing availability of covid vaccines.
While these signs of progress are encouraging, we know that the journey to full recovery can be a long one. Below, are some key insights and tips to help business owners navigate the path forward as businesses head for a full reopening on June 15.
Hiring New Talent
Last year, businesses were forced to reevaluate their budgets and make tough decisions around employee headcount. However, as the summer season approaches, more businesses across America are reopening. Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure your business is attractive for top talent.
- Create an application that is easy to navigate. As businesses begin to reopen more job opportunities are expected to become available. Create an application process that is quick and easy, but still screens for the experience level you’re looking for. Make your application mobile-friendly, too.
- Get everyone to recruit. Tapping into your current employee base can be one of the most powerful and cost-efficient strategies to find and recruit talent. Your current employees have familiarity with your company culture and the necessary skillset to thrive at your organization. Consider offering bonuses to staff who successfully refer new employees.
Reevaluate Short and Long-term Goals
Business owners took advantage of many resources and programs throughout the last year to navigate the pandemic, from leaning on friends and family to one-quarter applying for a business loan or line of credit over the past year. While only 16% say they will seek financing in 2021, consider these strategies:
- Prioritize your business plan. Sit down with your small business banker to take stock of your business’ current situation and business plan. Your small business banker can help you set realistic goals as your business’ recovery continues.
- Explore available resources to meet your goals. The Bank of America team wants to ensure small business owners have access to the tools and resources needed to secure needed funding based on what new goals require additional financing? Are you looking to boost your headcount? Do you anticipate structural or technological enhancements? Bankers can also help connect business owners who may not qualify for traditional bank financing to local CDFI partners.
Business owners adapted their business for the health and safety of their employees last year. As the economy begins to reopen, 62% anticipate that the operational changes they made in response to the coronavirus – enhancing their sanitation practices, reevaluated community impact and building a digital sales strategy – will continue beyond the pandemic.
- Consider a digital transition. Businesses across the country have adjusted aspects of their operations, changing primary revenue streams and shifting to online sales. As we continue to adjust, consider digital banking to limit in-person interactions and greater client convenience.
- Proceed with purpose. If you are a part of the 53% of business owners who indicated they are committed to advocating for social change through their business, be sure to set clear and attainable goals. Consumers are sharp, and will be able to tell the difference between platitudes and substance.
Overall, we’re seeing encouraging progress for the small business community across the Inland Empire and we’re looking forward to helping business owners thrive as the economy safely reopens in 2021 and beyond.