Survey: Business owners' outlooks for 2013 vary

January 14, 2013

First Merchants Bank, and its divisions, Lafayette Bank & Trust and Commerce National Bank, have released results from a recent survey of business owners in their markets. The survey, part of an outreach effort targeting local business owners, asked for predictions about the economy, business conditions in 2013, and future business challenges.

Results showed a wide variety of business outlooks, with responses ranging from predicting extremely favorable future business conditions, to reporting negative effects from regulatory changes and expecting increased competition. A number of responses seemed to indicate that, for many businesses, conditions are expected to remain unchanged in the near future.

Business owners named a variety of challenges for their companies in the coming year. A number of respondents mentioned concerns over healthcare reform, taxes and other regulations, the ‘sluggish economy’ and customers’ ability to pay, and finding and retaining qualified employees. A few said they expected to grow, and were focused on managing growth, keeping up with demand, and acquiring additional work space.

A third of respondents had not tried to obtain financing in the past 12 months; the majority of those who did reported having no difficulty obtaining the financing they needed.

A total of 164 responses were received during the survey period; 64 percent were associated with First Merchants Bank, 22 percent of respondees were associated with Lafayette Bank & Trust, and 14 percent associated with Commerce National Bank.

Average responses for specific survey questions are noted below:

• How do you expect the national economy's general business conditions to change one year from now? Decline slightly
• How do you expect the local economy's general business conditions to change one year from now? Remain the same
• How do you expect your net income (after taxes) in 2012 to compare to your 2011 net income? The same
• How do you expect your workforce to change in the next year? No change
• How do you believe the November elections will affect your business next year? Slight negative effect
• Has your company experienced any direct effects of regulatory changes in the past year? No
• To what extent do you expect competition for customers within your industry to change in 2012? Slightly more competition
• Have you been able to obtain financing when needed in the past 12 months? Yes, with no trouble, was the most common answer
• How do you expect the national economy's general business conditions to change five years from now? Remain the same