Over the last several years, owners of small minority businesses have faced an inordinate number of challenges, given the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact on almost every aspect of life.
And while scientists continue to warn Americans that vestiges and variants of the deadly virus will remain in our midst for at least another year, business owners appear to be more optimistic as the new year continues to unfold.
JPMorgan Chase recently released its 2023 Business Leaders Outlook survey that reveals insights from business leaders about their recession expectations, the impacts inflation has had on their approaches to pricing, sourcing, and running operations and their outlook for the year ahead.
The survey revealed that small minority businesses are poised for growth this year, with half of Black, Latino and Hispanic business leaders planning to grow, hire and expand their business.
Compared to the overall population, these minority small business leaders have employed a greater variety of measures to find and hire the right talent including wage increases, upskilling, training opportunities and flexible hours.
Key takeaways from Black business owners who responded to the survey include:
- 55% expect a recession in the year ahead, compared to 61% nationally.
- 79% are optimistic about their own performance in the year ahead, compared to 72% nationally.
- 72% anticipate revenue and sales growth in the year ahead, and 69% expect their profits to increase in 2023.
- The top business challenges for Black business owners include inflation, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty.
- 55% anticipate hiring full-time employees over the next 12 months, compared to 51% nationally.
- To hire and retain employees, half (50%) of Black owners surveyed plan to increase wages and 38% plan to offer upskilling and training opportunities, compared to 42% and 29% nationally.
But what insights can other Black business owners glean from these responses as they make their move in 2023?
Jumoke (Joy) Fagbayi-Butts, a seasoned financial services advisor and a team member for Chase in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut where she serves as vice president, senior business consultant, shared her insights on the details behind the survey.
She asserted that with the right tools and information, 2023 has the potential to be a banner year for small minority businesses.
“We started the process by surveying underserved populations,” she said. “For each business owner, the strategy was to work with them one on one to develop a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. From there we curated a curriculum germane to each business owner’s needs.”
“There are tons of information that can benefit business owners. Our goal remains to point individuals to the kinds of tools and information that can be applied to their business. Access to capital is one component that often frustrates businesses so we work to improve their comfort level and help them identify the right people with whom they can negotiate.”
“If you want to succeed, it’s imperative that business owners be willing to assess the hurdles they’ve faced, the programs they’ve employed, the steps they’ve taken that yielded unsatisfactory results and the means they hope to follow in efforts to recover from losses they may have endured during the pandemic. We work with them for about six months after which they have a solid business plan that they can follow alone,” she said.
Anxiety About the Future Need Not Lead to Paralysis
Fagbayi-Butts, in support of JPMorgan Chase’s racial equity commitment, remains committed to bringing unique insights and value to every interaction with businesses that request assistance. And because she’s part of a large team of experts in areas that include cash management, credit solutions and other business services, she said she’s found that overcoming a client’s fears and anxiety can be resolved more easily than many may believe.
“During our one on one sessions, a lot of different things come up including fear about the future,” she said. “The key is to help people identify the source or sources of that anxiety. And while we are not counselors, we do have the means to point individuals to the right sources – an attorney, an accountant or maybe a marketing consultant – who can help them build their ecosystem.”
“Chase offers a team of trained business coaches and we’ve seen that in most cases, once business owners become better informed about the elements of their business that have challenged them and kept them awake at night, they become more comfortable. Some, if not all, of the fears begin to dissipate,” she said.
In her role as a business coach, she emphasizes the importance of being able to pivot and remain flexible.
“Thinking outside of the box is vital,” she said. “But it’s equally important for business owners to have a vision and clear understanding of both their mission and purpose. Many corporations invest a lot of time in developing and evaluating their strategic plan. Unfortunately, this is something that’s not done enough in the African-American community. Yes, being able to pivot is essential to success but not because someone else suggested such a move after problems had emerged. One must be on the lookout for small shifts and be both willing and able to adjust before they can result in negative impacts on a business.”
Listen to Others and Welcome Collaboration When Challenges Arise
Fagbayi-Butts shared the success story of one Black-owned cleaning business whose owners faced potential ruin when the pandemic struck.
“No one wanted outsiders in their homes as the number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continued to rise,” she said. “And many of the company’s clients were suddenly working from home, so they were able to do their own cleaning. Our recommendation was for the business owners to talk to the community and to be trusted advisors either in groups or one on one.”
“Unlike other communities, African Americans often lack a group of informed professionals with whom they can voice their concerns – a collective that serves as a sounding board.”
“Our client, through intentional dialogue and careful listening, came up with a new cleaning product that reduced the time and effort required for those who were relying on their own energy to clean their homes. The business sold the product to Walmart and it was soon available for purchase online.”
“These are the kinds of backstories, tales of success, that the Chase survey has helped to shape.”
“If a business owner has a to do list for 2023, we urge that they include three considerations:
1) Stay in tune with economic trends;
2) Recession-proof your business; and
3) Optimize working capital,” she said. “In addition, it’s a good idea to surround oneself with the right people – those who have a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.”
“In other words, business owners need to not only embrace a ‘yes, I can mentality,’ but need to have employees who bring a similar perspective to the table,” she said.
JPMorgan Chase’s Business Leaders Outlook survey was conducted online from November 14-22, 2022, for small businesses (annual revenues between $100,000 and $20 million) and from November 29 – December 13, 2022, for midsize businesses (annual revenues between $20 million and $500 million). In total, 1,799 business leaders in various industries across the U.S. participated in the survey.
For more information about the survey or to take advantage of services provided by Chase, visit www.chase.com/businessconsultant.