Resources for small businesses on the road to recovery

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Small business owners in Colorado and across the country are slowly but surely regaining their footing after a uniquely challenging year.

In metro Denver, growing consumer confidence has contributed to improvements, while the Bloomberg Colorado Index, which measures the performance of the Colorado economy, is up nearly 12% year-to-date.

According to new research from Bank of America, 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 nearly 80% attribute this to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

While these signs of progress are encouraging, we know that the journey to full recovery can be a long one. Below I am sharing some key insights from the Small Business Owner Report as well as some tips to navigate the path forward as the economy safely reopens.

Hiring new talent

Last year, unemployment rose sharply during the pandemic, forcing businesses to re-evaluate their budgets and make tough decisions around talent. Given that one-in-five business owners plan to hire this year, it is 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.

Re-evaluate short- and long-term goals

Colorado business owners took advantage of many resources and programs throughout the last year to navigate the pandemic, leaning on friends and family and seeking professional guidance. And while one-quarter applied for a business loan or line of credit over the past year, only 16% say they will seek financing in 2021. To continue this positive momentum throughout 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 funding. Bankers can also help connect business owners who may not qualify for traditional bank financing to our network of CDFI partners across the country. Consider the following questions — What new goals require additional financing? Are you looking to boost your headcount? Do you anticipate any structural or technological enhancements in the coming year?

Operational shifts

Business owners adapted their business for the health and safety of their employees over the past year. As the economy begins to reopen, 62% anticipate that the operational changes they made in response to the coronavirus will continue beyond the pandemic - specifically, enhancing their sanitation practices and building a digital sales strategy. As digital proliferation continues, we expect to see more helpful tools come out for business owners.

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 in metro Denver and we’re looking forward to helping business owners thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Nathan Macaluso is the Colorado Small Business Banking Manager for Bank of America. He resides in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood.

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