Small businesses are mostly positive in their expectations for the next 12 months, with 64% anticipating growth, according to the Small Business Health Index from CAN Capital.
With growth comes the need for funding to finance expansion and new projects, but 42% of small business owners say it’s challenging to gain access to working capital.
Most small businesses are in need of smaller amounts of capital, which the traditional loan process typically doesn’t allow for. Specifically, 66% of small business owners are looking for amounts of $50,000 or under when seeking funding, with the top reasons being to purchase equipment and/or inventory (22%) or to expand operations (21%).
“It’s encouraging to see small business owners feeling so good about their prospects for growth,” said Daniel DeMeo, CEO of CAN Capital. “To ensure they are able to achieve their goals, it’s important that they have fast, efficient access to working capital to fuel their expansion.”
According to the index, 87% of small business owners have never tried obtaining working capital from an online finance provider. When small business owners successfully secure funding, the most-used options are traditional banks (28%), credit cards (25%) and friends and family (21%).
“It’s clear that small business owners don’t always know how to find the kinds of loans they need,” DeMeo said. “For those in need of larger loans, there are an array of options, including traditional bank loans. But when small business owners come to us for access to working capital, the average loan amount is about $50,000. Many banks and other financial institutions find it inefficient to loan in these smaller amounts, leaving a huge gap in the market for small businesses. Alternative finance companies are able to fill that gap, and do so with real-time approvals and fast funding, so business owners can get back to running their businesses instead of searching for capital.”
As mobile payments options are expanding and growing in popularity among consumers, more small businesses are recognizing the need to tap into this payment offering for customers. Thirty-four percent of small businesses currently accept mobile payments such as Apple Pay, a notable increase from April 2015 when only 13% were accepting this form of payment.
However, despite last year’s October 1 deadline for small businesses to upgrade their POS systems to accept EMV chip enabled credit cards, 73% of small business owners say their current POS systems are not EMV compatible. That means a large majority of small businesses would be liable for consumer losses if an in-store transaction is conducted using a counterfeit, stolen or compromised card. Despite these potential costs and liabilities, 70% of small business owners do not plan to invest in new payments technology in the next 12 months.
“It’s concerning how many small businesses are leaving themselves open to paying for liabilities and losses from potential credit card fraud,” DeMeo said. “By working with payment processors, small businesses should work out a plan to upgrade their payment systems both to protect themselves and to better serve their customers.”
Though small business owners are feeling positive about the near term, they do see some potential threats on the horizon, specifically, excessive regulation (25%), competition from big box retailers (20%) and rising operational costs (18%).
With the election just a few months away, small businesses are keeping a close eye on the impact the issues being debated could have on them. Sixty percent of small business owners do not agree with increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a hot topic among the presidential candidates. When asked which presidential candidate would be the best for small businesses, 37% cited Donald Trump, 21% Hillary Clinton and 42% said neither.