Nearly nine in 10 U.S. business leaders are optimistic about their company's performance over the next six months according to a new survey.

The JPMorgan Chase 2021 Business Leaders Outlook Pulse survey found 88% of business leaders were bullish about their company's immediate future, the highest percentage recorded in the survey's 11 years, and up from 56% a year ago.

Source: JPMorgan Chase 2021 Business Leaders Outlook Pulse survey.

Released last month, the survey also showed that 82% of business leaders are optimistic about their industry’s performance, a significant jump from 45% a year ago.

“After enduring the challenges of the last year and a half, businesses are feeling overwhelmingly positive about what’s ahead,” JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking head economist Jim Glassman said.

“The focus now is on navigating growing pains to harness the momentum of the economic recovery, which is comparatively a good problem to have.”

U.S. Economy

Survey findings reveal growing confidence in the national economy, with 75% of survey respondents expressing optimism with the recovery, a 40 percentage point increase from a year ago.

Just over half (53%) said they were optimistic about the global economy, the highest level since 2018 and up from just 17% last summer.

Just over half said they were optimistic about the global economy, the highest level since 2018.

JPMorgan Chase says that confidence is driving ambitious growth plans, with 80% of business leaders expecting increased revenues and/or sales.

Almost half (46%) expect to make increased capital investments—a 28-point jump from a year ago—while 38% say their credit needs will increase over the rest of 2021.

Business Models

The coronavirus pandemic has driven renewed innovation, with businesses pivoting and overhauling business models to navigate the disruptions of the past 15 months.

A majority of companies (61%) diversified by developing new product and service lines, with many planning to maintain those offering post-pandemic.

"Businesses are proving yet again that when put to the test, they adapt, innovate, and rise to the occasion."

JPMorgan Chase's John Simmons

Thirty-nine percent expanded e-commerce capabilities and 38% digitized accounts payables and receivables processes to boost efficiency.

And 38% of those surveyed reported expanding into new geographical markets.

“Businesses are proving yet again that when put to the test, they adapt, innovate, and rise to the occasion—and in many cases, become stronger and gain market share,” said John Simmons, JPMorgan Chase's head of Middle Market Banking and Specialized Industries.

Challenges

Ongoing supply chain issues are the primary challenge for businesses across the country, with survey respondents adapting by finding new suppliers, digitizing back office functions, and managing vendors remotely.

Finding workers also remains a challenge, with 81% of surveyed business leaders expecting to hire new employees over the next six months.

Employers are reevaluating their workplace models with 38% expecting all employees to return to on-site work, while 54% are planning a flexible work environment.

Source: JPMorgan Chase 2021 Business Leaders Outlook Pulse survey.

Of those taking a flexible approach, preserving company culture is a top concern, followed by maintaining productivity levels.

Cybersecurity remains an issue—one-third of companies report being directly impacted by a cyberattack or fraud since March 2020.

Among those that experienced attacks, 79% report employee education and training was the best mitigation tactic, with 56% citing proactive countermeasures, including deploying new technologies.

The survey was conducted online from June 7-18, 2021, for middle market companies with annual revenues between $20 million and $500 million—1,375 business leaders in various industries participated.