Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Columbia Banking System Inc. (Nasdaq: COLB), today announced the findings of its 6th annual Business Barometer ― an in-depth study of the mood, mindset, and strategic priorities “of 1,250 leaders of small and midsize businesses across the U.S.”
Business leaders focused on efficiency, reducing uncertainty, protecting working capital.
- 74% focused on digitization to become more efficient
- 60% investing in tools to protect payments systems
- 57% of midsize businesses likely to bring supply chains back to U.S.
- Cybersecurity surpasses talent issues as a top midsize company concern
While concerns about the direction of the economy persist, business optimism “is rising, and expectations for revenue and profitability are increasing.”
The research study also found “a growing appetite among businesses to make prudent investments that will help them become more efficient and competitive.”
With positivity about the current state of the economy (41% excellent/good), expectations for increased revenue (58%) and profitability (51%) “hovering around or exceeding five-year highs, businesses are noticeably more likely than last year to take planned action to achieve their goals in the next 12 months.”
Key Investments Target Efficiency over Aggressive Growth
Businesses are focused on becoming more efficient in the year ahead. Outside of increasing revenue and sales, “improving operational efficiency ranks as the most “crucial” factor to success.”
Nearly 3 in 4 enterprises plan “to invest in digitizing new areas of their business to improve efficiency.” Midsize companies are especially focused “on increasing efficiencies through automation, which ranks as the ‘most important’ action to manage profitability in the next 12 months, as well as a top investment priority.”
Commercial Real Estate Holds Steady as Businesses Eye Opportunities
Appetite for expanding commercial real estate is “holding steady.” Midsize companies are more likely than last year “to consider expanding their real estate footprints in the next 12 months (2023: 57% and 2022: 39%).”
Businesses Plan to Continue Hybrid Options for Workers
For industries not constrained by “in-person services, hybrid schedules remain the norm.”
More than half of all businesses surveyed “offer consistent hybrid work options for employees, including 1 in 3 allowing remote days most of the week, and 1 in 5 allowing a full five remote workdays.”
On behalf of Umpqua Bank, DHM Research conducted “an online survey of 1250 owners, executives, and financial decision-makers of American small and middle market companies during July 27 to August 8, 2023. 22% of middle market respondents are minority-owned while 23% of small business respondents are certified woman-owned and 17% minority-owned.”
The margin of error is: ±2.8%.