Bank of America releases the fall 2019 Small Business Owner Snapshot

U.S. business owners are entering the new decade on a high note, with the majority anticipating year-over-year revenue growth as they close out 2019, according to the fall 2019 Bank of America Small Business Owner Snapshot, our bi-annual study exploring the perspectives, aspirations and concerns of entrepreneurs around the country and in 10 major cities.

Our research also finds business owners confident about their 2020 business prospects, with expansion plans, revenue projections and intent to hire remaining strong and steady from last fall.

Business owners are optimistic about the strength of their local economies, though confidence in the national economy has wavered slightly since last year. Entrepreneurs point to elections, the U.S. political climate, the GDP growth rate, inflation and interest rates as the top factors influencing their economic outlook for the year ahead. Additionally, a steady increase of entrepreneurs say they have been impacted by U.S. trade policies—particularly on the costs of their goods and supplies, as well as customer pricing.

Looking ahead to the new decade, entrepreneurs’ top long-term business goals are to significantly increase revenue, establish a stronger online and social media presence, and expand into new markets. That’s certainly the direction Michelle Brandriss is planning to take her company, Name Bubbles.

Bubbling up to success
It all started with a problem many parents have. Michelle Brandriss was frustrated that her son Cooper’s belongings kept getting lost at daycare—her homemade permanent marker-and-masking-tape labeling system simply wasn’t cutting it.

Brandriss knew she was hardly the only parent experiencing these mix-ups—after all, other kids’ bottles were somehow ending up in her bag. In search of a solution and sensing a business opportunity, Brandriss began researching product materials, designs and printing methods. A few months later, Name Bubbles was born in her basement office in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Using durable vinyl material made with non-toxic, eco-friendly ink, Name Bubbles offers a variety of kid-proof labels that save parents time and money, while also keeping kids with food allergies—like Cooper—safe from life-threatening mix-ups. Dishwasher and laundry-friendly, Name Bubbles products are used to quickly identify daycare items, camping equipment, school supplies and uniforms. They can also serve as a medical alert, providing allergy and emergency contact information.

Name Bubbles grew slowly but consistently, and Brandriss evolved the business’ scope while she learned more about effectively running a business and figured out what kind of manager she wanted to be.

“I view my employees as customers; they need to be excited to come into work each day,” Brandriss said. “I’ve seen over and over again how having good, happy employees translates into having happy customers too.”

Brandriss originally self-funded Name Bubbles. As her business took off, a loan from Bank of America helped her strengthen the company’s website, manufacturing and processing systems. The new backend has allowed more flexibility and has expanded her business’ ability to work directly with schools and sports teams.

Fast forward 10 years, and Name Bubbles is now the largest company of its kind in North America. Brandriss grew her business from a basement office startup to an industry leader reaching more than 83,000 of customers per year. Name Bubbles has stayed at the top of its game by swiftly adapting to the dramatic evolution of the business and industry over the past decade, especially in the e-commerce space.

“To be a big player, you really have to watch the internet and the changes that are taking place globally,” Brandriss said. In the coming years she plans to expand internationally, moving into different languages, currencies and alphabets.

Reflecting on her experience as a business owner, Brandriss urges fellow entrepreneurs to create and stick to daily goals, and to remember that running a business is never going to be perfect.

Says Brandriss, “Striving for perfection can stop you in your tracks. You have to problem solve, do the best as you can, adapt and move forward.”

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