June 17, 2024
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Small business owners, in the nation and in the region, keep rosy outlook

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Santa Barbara psychotherapist Jenn Kennedy, center, with her fellow clinicians at Riviera Therapy. (courtesy photo)

A new Bank of America study finds that a majority of small and mid-sized business owners have an optimistic outlook about their businesses over the next year.

Among other things, many expect their revenues to increase and plan to expand their businesses, the survey, released May 1, found.

Jenn Kennedy, who has a Santa Barbara psychotherapy practice, is one of them.

“I was happy to see that in the report,” she told the Business Times May 10. 

“I’m hopeful too.”

Kennedy, 50, said Riviera Therapy has a stratified business model with different price points.

“And I have seen a general uptick in sessions, with clients being able to tolerate higher price points,” she said.

“So, it seems like it echoes what’s happening according to the report,” she said.

Riviera Therapy was founded in 2017 and now has nine therapists, including herself.

Its focus is on couples relationships and sexuality, but it does serve individual clients as well.

Like many other businesses, Kennedy’s enterprise weathered some challenges during the pandemic.

But the last two years have seen growth, both in number of appointments and income, she said.

“It’s encouraging,” Kennedy said.

So much so that she’s closing escrow on a second building to expand her business.

“Part of my strategy is bringing on additional clinicians that maybe diversify the business, bringing in new types of customers that need certain types of support,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy is a client of Brenda Cervantes, Bank of America’s small business specialist for the tri-county region.

Kennedy said Cervantes helped her get a loan during the pandemic to buy a first building for her business and is also involved in assisting her purchase the second building.

“She’s been very helpful,” Kennedy said. “She touches base regularly to say, ‘Hey, how’s your business going?

“’Do you need money?’” she said. “’Do you need help to grow your business?’”

Cervantes, based in Goleta, said that small businesses in the tri-county area are resilient with much growth.

“We are having more conversations about what they can do to invest in their business, to continue growing, to invest in their employees,” she said.

Cervantes attributed that resilience to what she said is the uniqueness of Southern California, including the Central Coast.

“You still see a lot of small businesses being established in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and clients going shopping there, spending there,” she said.

The 2024 Bank of America Business Owner Report was conducted in partnership with Bank of America Institute.

The study includes input from more than 1,400 small and mid-sized business owners, defined as businesses with $100,000 to $5 million and $5 million to $50 million in annual revenues, respectively.

The survey found that when looking at attitudes concerning the national economy, business owners’ outlooks varied by the size of their firms: 75% of mid-sized business owners expect the national economy to improve over the next 12 months, while just 33% of small business owners expect the same.

Other mid-sized business owners findings include:

• 87% believe their revenue will increase over the next 12 months.

• 80% plan to expand their businesses in the year ahead.

• 69% plan to hire over the next 12 months.

• 84% said their revenues were higher in 2023 than in 2022.

“Our report finds that most mid-sized business owners are … confident in their revenue growth as well as in the local, national and global economies,” Raul Anaya, Bank of America’s president and co-head of business banking, said in a press release.

Among small business owners:

• 65% expect their revenue to increase in the year ahead. 

• 39% plan to expand their business over the next year.

• 30% plan to hire more employees over the next 12 months.

• 55% reported higher business revenues in 2023 than in 2022.

“Small business owners remain cautiously optimistic in 2024,” said Sharon Miller, Bank of America’s president and co-head of business banking.

“With anticipated revenue increases, many are focused on engaging with customers and implementing new technologies that will help them differentiate their businesses,” she said.

email: mharris@pacbiztimes.com