Small Business Owners Optimistic About Finances in Spite of Credit Challenges

Small Business Owners Optimistic About Finances in Spite of Credit Challenges

The majority of small business owners are optimistic about their finances, but more than half say they find it challenging to obtain the credit they need, according to a recent survey. While 71 percent of small business owners said their current financial situation is very or somewhat good, only 39 percent said that credit was somewhat easy to obtain over the past 12 months.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index shows a slight drop in small business owner optimism from March to April; however, the Index remains significantly higher than this time last year. Business owners continue to report improvement in revenue (almost half reported an increase over last year and more than half expect to see continued gains) and cash flow (six in 10 said their cash flow was very or somewhat good over the last 12 months). Respondents said they plan to hire more employees, increase capital spending and apply for new credit products in 2017.

“It’s encouraging to see that for many small business owners 2017 is off to a great start, and they remain optimistic and continue to express confidence in the outlook for their businesses,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo head of Small Business. “As the economy has improved over several years, more and more business owners have healthier finances and are ready to take steps to position their businesses for the long-term.”

Though small business owners’ optimism about revenue and growth continues to uptick, their confidence is weaker when it comes to knowing how to seek credit to expand their businesses, according to the latest TD Bank Small Business Survey. While 80 percent said they are self-reliant in managing their finances, many reported they don’t know how to build business credit. 

The survey of 550 small businesses with $1 million or less in annual revenue reports that nearly seven in 10 small business owners said they don’t know about business credit scores or realize they even have one. Nearly one-third had too high of a debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a loan, and one in five said that rising interest rates are a challenge to their business. Of those surveyed, only 21 percent said they have or will seek a loan or line of credit this year and 11 percent said they don’t know how to go about seeking credit when they’re ready.

“Though not as obvious, accessing capital poses another challenge to small business. We don’t hear about this issue as much because small business is resigned to regarding capital access as just another issue among the many that they face. But capital limitations present an unnecessary cost and hold back small business growth,” said William Phelan, president of PayNet Inc., a small business credit rating firm.