Small businesses “cautiously optimistic,” says TD Bank survey
New York City small business owners, including those in Brooklyn, have a more positive outlook on their business prospects in 2015 than they did in 2014, according to TD Bank’s second annual Small Business Pulse Check.
In this survey, TD asked 495 business owners in the five boroughs — including 101 in Brooklyn — about their revenue goals, 2015 outlook, financing needs and the impact of the overall economy on their businesses.
For the purposes of this survey, the bank defined “small business” as one that has $5 million or less in yearly revenue and 100 or fewer employees, according to Chris Giamo, regional president, Metro New York, for TD Bank. These businesses represent a sample of several different sectors — commercial, industrial, retail, service and more.
“More than two-thirds of the businesses in Brooklyn either met or exceeded their goals in 2014,” Giamo told the Eagle. “Business is improving, the economy is improving, more than two-thirds are looking to expand their business or make improvements. Most are cautiously optimistic.”
According to the survey, 77 percent of metro-area small business owners met or exceeded their revenue goals for 2014. The number who exceeded their goals nearly tripled (36 percent in 2014, compared with only 13 percent in 2013).
In addition, the overall economy had less of an adverse effect on businesses in New York City over the last year. Only 42 percent of 2015 respondents said their business has been negatively affected by the economy, compared with 56 percent in 2014. Furthermore, 60 percent of small business owners said they are looking to increase revenue in the coming year, up from 44 percent in 2014.
Seventy percent of survey respondents said they are feeling optimistic or excited about their business. More than one-quarter even said 2015 might be their best year to date.
Despite this high level of optimism, challenges still persist for business owners in New York City, according to the bank. The biggest challenges cited by respondents in 2015 include economic uncertainty (23 percent), increased cost of doing business (17 percent) and competitive pressures (13 percent).
Patrick Martins, owner of Heritage Foods in Bushwick, an online retailer that sells rare and heritage-based, pasture-raised meats that are bred on family farms, is one Brooklyn small business owner who saw his business grow a substantial amount during the past year.
“I think education is the key to our success — people understanding what we do,” said Martins, author of “The Carnivore’s Manifesto.” “The more people know about turkey or pork chops, the more they will seek out the best.”
Americans, he said, have to overcome the negative effects of large companies that disparage smaller, specialized, quality-based businesses such as his. As an example of this, he cited Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad that disparaged craft breweries that make products like “pumpkin peach ale.”
As far as finance is concerned, Martins said his business deals with one bank — TD Bank. If small businesses spend too much time comparing banks and constantly changing financial arrangements “for pennies,” they will have less time to focus on producing a good product, he said.
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, added, “I think things are going very well [for small businesses] and we are seeing an uptake in things, which is exciting, but we’ve definitely got a ways to go.”
Asked about the type of support small businesses need, he said, “It’s always about money. How do I expand? How do I get access to capital? It’s really about money, growing the business, and so on.”
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