ATLANTA – According to the annual SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) Business Pulse Survey, there is a significant shift in the growth strategies of middle-market and small businesses as they move forward with plans to fuel expansion in the next five years. Thirty-six percent of middle market companies with annual revenue of $10-150 million are exploring mergers and acquisitions, up from 25 percent 2015; while 41 percent of small businesses with annual revenue of $2-10 million plan to introduce a new product or service, up from 31 percent. In a further shift, 29 percent of middle market companies are now looking to expand into international markets, while 32 percent of small businesses are looking domestically to grow their business.
“Leaders are optimistic, with more than 80 percent saying their businesses are strong and they are confident about their company’s finances. Along with the belief that capital is accessible, this is changing the way companies are approaching growth over the next five years,” said Beau Cummins, commercial and business banking executive at SunTrust. “We see interest in M&A on the upswing for middle market companies and plans to grow organically significantly decreasing. We also found that growth through bank or private equity funding is anticipated by both sectors.”
Toward the future
Looking toward the future, actions planned for the next five years also include product innovation, capital investment and expanding to new consumer or business segments.
Top business goals for 2016 include growing profitability (27 percent) or revenue (25 percent), increasing customer satisfaction (21 percent), and investing for future growth and expansion (19 percent); and 80 percent of business leaders feel confident they will achieve their goals. Middle market and small businesses are also focused on attracting and retaining employees, which was cited as a top concern.
SunTrust found that small business leaders are most concerned about uncertainty in the economy (68 percent), changes in the healthcare laws (68 percent), cash flow stability (66 percent) and employee morale (65 percent). Mid-market business leaders’ concerns also include fraud protection and cyber security (72 percent).
“Today’s business leaders expect their banker to have a deep understanding of their industry. They want help developing short and long-term financial plans coupled with impactful strategies to achieve their goals,” said Cummins. “They are looking for a partner who can provide day-to-day solutions to manage interest rates, working capital, and cash flow while still helping to manage their evolving needs – transition planning, employee benefit planning, M&A advisory or wealth management. At SunTrust, we offer the critical support to help businesses feel confident to pursue their growth objectives.”
Decision-makers representing 508 small and mid-size businesses participated in the SunTrust/Radius Global Market Research online survey. Total survey results have a maximum margin of error of +/- 4.35 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.