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Saturday, August 13, 2022

JP Morgan Chase’s Business Leadership Survey Shows Economic Optimism For 2022

(Credit: iStockphoto.com/gorodenkoff)

By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium

Businesses have been hit especially hard by COVID, but because of the engagement of large financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase, businesses particularly small and minority owned businesses are feeling optimistic about their futures.

JPMorgan Chase recently conducted their 2022 Business Leaders Outlook Survey. The survey asked minority business owners, who were disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, about their perspectives on their financial futures.

The survey, which was conducted online between November 11-29, 2021, surveyed more than 2,600 small and midsized business leaders in various industries across the U.S.

According to the survey, most businesses are feeling positive about their potential with 83% of midsize and 71% of small businesses feeling optimistic about their own performance in 2022, up from 77% and 63% one year ago, respectively. Business owners also possess optimism around their local, national and global economic outlooks compared to the start of 2021 as well as their industry performance.

Despite continued uncertainty posed by COVID-19, many businesses continue to have high expectations with 81% of midsize businesses and 63% of small businesses anticipating revenue and sales growth in the year ahead. This is in line with plans for expansion and increased demand as more than 4 in 10 of the businesses surveyed expect their credit needs to increase in 2022, representing the highest percentages recorded in the last five years.

Compared to national data, Seattle is working diligently to stay ahead of the curve. Compared to the rest of the country, Seattle-area midsize businesses are more optimistic about the local economy (72% vs. 60% all U.S.), the national economy (69% vs. 50% all U.S.) and the global economy (61% vs. 34% all U.S.). Compared to the national average, midsize businesses in the Seattle-area are more likely to expect increased capital expenditures (60% vs. 45% all U.S.) in 2022.

“Businesses have been key accelerators of the continued economic recovery through their resolve and ingenuity in finding new ways to deliver products and services to their customers,” said Jim Glassman, head economist, JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking. “They now have a stronger sense of how to remain competitive in the current economic landscape, which should allow them to build on last year’s momentum.”

As reports across the nation have shown, minority business has been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Business Leadership Survey uncovered insights from Black and Hispanic/Latino small business owners that included conclusions ranging from Black and Hispanic/Latino small business owners reporting that their biggest challenge has been shifting consumer habits due to COVID-19.

A significantly greater number of Black and Latino business owners are planning all types of changes to their physical space compared to other small business owners in total.

Optimism, especially among Black business owners remains strong, with a higher percentage expecting increases in revenue, sales and profits in the year ahead compared to the national average.

However, while Hispanic/Latino and Black business owners have high expectations for the future, there is also a significant concern when it comes to finding quality workers. Both groups are trying multiple approaches – like increased wages and benefits, upskilling/training, improved infrastructure — to attract qualified candidates, more so than all other groups of small business owners.

In light of the challenges posed by the current environment, small and midsize businesses have made adjustments to their business models.

Many businesses have come up with creative ways to adapt to the inconveniences caused by the pandemic. For example, supply chain workaroundsused to alleviate supply chain disruptions, employee incentivesresponding to recruiting and hiring concerns and new consumer channels are among the unique ways that they are navigating through COVID. While small businesses are concerned about how shifting consumer preferences due to COVID-19 will impact them, they are increasingly taking action to reach consumers via digital channels.

“Businesses today are eager to grow but are having to navigate the reality of not being able to fill open roles quickly enough and dealing with disruptions in their supply chain that are slowing them down,” said John Simmons, head of Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries, JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking. “At the same time, it’s encouraging to see companies’ adaptability and the pivots they’ve made to push through major pain points. I’m inspired everyday by the grit and ingenuity of America’s business leaders, who have continued to shine throughout the pressures of the past 18-plus months.”

Chase offers what they call “New Year, New Considerations”, these are things that businesses should consider planning for in 2022:

Embrace Uncertainty. Resilience has been essential to businesses’ survival and success throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remain Patient. As painful as supply chain bottlenecks and rising costs currently are, the flow of goods could return to more normal levels in the coming months as manufacturers ramp up production and demand for goods eases, in turn helping reduce inflationary pressures. Until then, businesses that utilize strategic stockpiling and look to add suppliers from new geographies may be ahead of the curve.  

Consider Environmental, Social and Governance factors (ESG). Even for small and midsize businesses, examining which ESG factors are core to their mission and considering reporting on their ESG efforts can help build a well-defined company culture and improve employee retention, particularly in a competitive hiring environment.

“We’re pleased to see that small business owners’ confidence level is improving,” said Ben Walter, CEO, Chase Business Banking. “Challenges remain, but our clients are resilient, and we are proud to support them as they navigate supply shortages, adapt to shifting local safety requirements, and find creative ways to hire employees in a tight labor market. As confidence improves, we see a greater need for credit, and Chase stands ready to help.”

JP Morgan Chase believes surveys such as this is vital, giving them an overview and keeping them inform on the pulse of the people they serve. It also gives them a better idea of the needs of their clients and communities to better serve them.

“The annual [JPMorgan Chase Business Leader Outlook] survey offers a timely snapshot of the current business environment and helps business leaders make informed decisions,” said Mikal Quarles, executive director, Chase Business Banking. “This information provides a fresh view of small business trends, challenges and opportunities for local entrepreneurs to better understand the dynamics of small business growth. We use this data to underscore and expand our programs such as free one-one-one coaching, education, technical assistance and access to capital.  Chase is here to help more Black small businesses grow, scale and make the most of every opportunity.”

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