Small Businesses Plan to Invest in Training and Development

By Bill Leonard May 4, 2015
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As small business owners struggle to identify, attract and hire qualified job candidates, they are putting more effort and investment dollars into training and developing current employees, according to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report released on April 29, 2015.

In addition, the report found that small business owners are fairly upbeat about the U.S. economy and their business prospects.

“Small business owners are optimistic about the future and are working extremely hard to achieve success,” said Robb Hilson, a small business executive at Bank of America, in a statement. “As they have focused on recovery, many business owners have embraced a mindset of self-sacrifice. They are prioritizing their employees and customers above all else and it is often at the expense of their own personal or financial well-being.”

When it comes to focusing on employees, the top priorities for small business owners are hiring more staff and improving employee compensation and benefits packages, the report stated, though survey respondents listed a lack of qualified job candidates as their top recruiting and hiring challenge. The scarcity of skilled applicants is in turn driving small business owners to invest more in training and development programs, the report concluded.

“Citing difficulty in locating qualified candidates, small business owners’ No. 1 priority for using loan capital is training and developing their existing staff,” Hilson said.

Research shows that the number of small businesses seeking loans is moving toward record levels. Small business loan approval rates hit post-recession highs in March 2015, according to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index—a monthly analysis of business loan applications. The Bank of America report had similar results and revealed a more than 10 percent increase in the number of business owners who had applied for a loan over the past two years.

“We’re happy to say that small business owners’ confidence in the economy remains steady compared with one year ago,” Hilson said. “In addition, small business owners are optimistic about the growth of their businesses over the next five years.”

To compile the data for the Bank of America report, employees of Braun Research interviewed 1,000 small business owners throughout the United States in March 2015. The small businesses participating in the study had annual revenues of less than $5 million and employed fewer than 100 workers. An additional 300 small business owners were surveyed in the nine target markets of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Bill Leonard is an online editor/manager at SHRM.

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