Black entrepreneurs are becoming more ardent supporters of social change as well as changing some of their business operating strategies amid COVID-19, a new survey for Bank of America reveals.
The Bank of America Summer 2021 Black Business Owner Spotlight included interviews with 300 Black small business owners. They were asked about several matters, including the pandemic’s impact, their goals, priorities, and challenges they face. The analysis also examined how COVID-19 is affecting the health and wellness of Black proprietors and what they are doing for employees in that area.
The recent online survey all told included a sample of 995 U.S. small business owners with annual revenue between $100,000 to $4.9 million. A top discovery is that 94% of Black business owners are committed to advocating for social change through their business, versus 53% of small business owners overall.
“The most surprising finding from our survey was that the overwhelming majority of Black business owners are not only committed to social change, but they are also changing the way they run their business as a result of social justice issues in our communities,” Sharon Miller, Bank of America Head of Small Business, told Black Enterprise by email.
Another new development is that 86% of Black SBOs have changed — or plan to change — their approach to employee wellness and benefits. For instance, 50% are allowing employees to have a more flexible work schedule, 40% permitting employees to work remotely, and 33% offering more paid time off or vacation programs. Some 32% are expanding well-being programs to include behavioral and mental health programs.
And as they plan to navigate the coming months, retooling their business operations will be essential to growing and sustaining their business, Miller says. In fact, 90% of Black SBOs have adopted new digital tools and strategies in response to the pandemic.
“This retooling, which includes finding new ways to interact with customers virtually and accepting more forms of cashless payment, can help streamline operations and foster closer relationships with customers and employees – ultimately growing their business,” she says.
Looking ahead, Miller says the biggest challenge for Black entrepreneurs will likely be economic stability and how the pandemic will continue to impact their business operations. She says Black entrepreneurs are regaining their financial footing, boosted by funding opportunities.
“Our Black Business Owner Spotlight has also indicated that the majority of Black small business owners, 93%, plan to obtain some type of funding for their business in the year ahead. When asked about the economic factors causing the most concern, they indicated that social and racial inequality, health care costs and the U.S. political environment are top of mind.”
Miller added the bank was surprised by the tremendous increase in optimism from Black entrepreneurs around the economy and their business outlook. She noted while Black business owners are still navigating many challenges brought on by the coronavirus, they remain resilient and optimistic about the path forward. Over the next 12 months, 84% of Black business owners expect revenue to increase, versus 48% in the fall of 2020. More details from the report can be found here.
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