Ask the expert: Small business

Jeff Hofmann, Managing Director, Small Business Lending at Chase

The state of small business

Q What is the current state of small business?

A This year has been all about growth for small businesses. Each year, Chase for Business conducts the Business Leaders Outlook survey (available at, where we poll leaders of small to midsize businesses for a snapshot of the state of small business. According to our 2019 survey, entrepreneurs are optimistic about domestic economic expansion, their company’s rising profit, and growth opportunities. In fact, 60% of small companies expect to see an increase in revenue and sales growth this year, and 58% of small businesses said they expect profits to increase. However, this optimism is not without some caution. The top concern among small business owners is finding the right talent to fill much-needed positions. The second-highest concern is related to trade policy worries, coupled with softer economic trends outside the U.S., which are causing a decidedly more subdued international outlook among business executives.

Q Recent data shows that U.S. small business lending is on the rise. What can we attribute that to?

A It’s true we’re seeing record years for small business lending — mainly due to small business owners’ optimism toward the small business economy at large, as well as growth within their own companies. It’s important for small business owners to make sure they have the resources to sustain their current level of business while positioning themselves for future growth. Banks today are able to provide various options for business owners looking for the right financing for their business needs, including short-term options for everyday operations like a Chase Ink Small Business credit card or long-term options such as business loans for larger investments. It’s all about having access to capital and managing cash flow effectively.

Q What are the emerging small businesses today we should be mindful of? Do we still see mom-and-pop shops, or are there new, more virtual and tech-based businesses we should focus on?

A We’re seeing all types of businesses emerging. It’s one of the things I admire most about small business owners — they are incredibly creative and inventive. It might be unexpected, but skilled trades are a strong area. There is a growing demand for skilled workers, as Baby Boomers, who often are self-employed or start their own trade business, hit retirement age and leave the labor force. Meanwhile, young people are choosing other career paths, making technical and trade skills the most difficult positions to fill. On the point of technology, software engineers and developers continue to create businesses to maintain software on a variety of platforms. Virtual reality (VR) computing is another area of booming growth in the tech space with the market size of VR hardware and software expected to surpass $19 billion by 2020, according to Statista. No matter the industry, with a thriving economy and consumer spending on the rise, the future remains bright for business owners across the country.

Jeff Hofmann is Managing Director of Small Business Lending at Chase. A member of the Chase lending team for nearly 15 years, he is primarily responsible for developing and integrating strategies across the marketing and credit life cycle, product development, acquisitions, customer engagement, retention, and credit.

Chase Ink

Chase Ink® credit cards are designed to meet the unique spending and cash flow needs of small businesses. Ink products offer rewards on every purchase, from premium travel rewards to cash back, and other benefits and protections that support small businesses.