36 Small Business Statistics You Need to Know (2020)
Don’t let the word “small” fool you—there’s a lot more that goes on in the small business world than meets the eye.
Despite having a lower number of employees on payroll and fewer customers than the average large business, small businesses hold a significant presence in our economy—especially as it continues to boom.
According to the SBA, businesses with less than 10 employees make up 75% of employers in the small business world. In fact, since the economy’s recent surge, small businesses have added more jobs than large businesses.
Financing is a crucial part of realizing the dream for business growth—and executing on all of your great ideas. Contrary to popular belief, financing is more important during rapid growth periods than slow stretches.
As your small business grows, it’s natural to check out small business statistics to see how others in your position are navigating these challenges.
Business Loan Statistics You Need to Know
This small business statistic might be alarming, but it shouldn’t be surprising. The small business world is rife with competition. And while most small business owners jump off on the right foot with great skills and innovative ideas, not all make it to the finish line.
There are a lot of factors that can affect how successful your business is, especially in the early stages. But a lack of capital (or cash flow) is the second most common, behind a lack of market need, which made up 42%.
This is a pitfall that businesses in all industries can fall into, and for a number of reasons.
An ineffective marketing strategy can stifle the number of leads that come through, preventing businesses from taking on new customers. This is especially common for service-based businesses, which rely on a steady stream of new customers. To improve lead generation, spreading the word about your business through Google, social media, and other channels is a must.
Service-based businesses that either don’t bring enough value to the table (or fall short of competitors) can also experience these cash flow issues.
But trending new businesses in metro areas (on both coasts) can also fall victim to a lack of capital and cash flow. In order to introduce, market and deliver digital products to customers, these start-up businesses require funding. If the funds to go to market aren’t there, then these ideas unfortunately expire before anyone can act.
The right funding source can provide your business with the lifeline you need, ensuring you accomplish everything you set out to do and more.
For small business owners, big banks are the first stop along the long road to finding financing. But according to this small business loan statistic, the search rarely ends there.
26.9% of big bank loan applications were approved in November, according to Biz2Credit. That’s less than half, which is slightly alarming, as most business owners think of banks and business loans as synonymous.
The numbers are slightly better when you look at small banks (without the same infrastructure) instead. Rather than nearly a quarter of approvals, small banks approved slightly over half the applications they received.
While those numbers are slightly more favorable, that still leaves quite a large percentage of business owners without much-needed funding.
Alternative lenders tend to approve far more business owners for funding, with industry approval rates floating around 70%. However, National approves 90% of applicants for business financing.
National’s unique marketplace allows you to find the right business loan for you by comparing rates, terms and amounts from over 75+ lenders— meaning you can get the best deal without worrying about missing out!
According to a survey conducted by Manta and Nav, 72% of small business owners don’t know their business credit score.
Business credit scores are different from personal credit scores. Rather than indicating how likely an individual is to make a payment, the business credit score indicates how trustworthy a business is as far as loan payments are concerned.
But that doesn’t mean that business credit scores are the only factor that matters when it comes to qualifying for business loans.
Many newer businesses can qualify instead based on personal credit scores, meaning they can be important throughout the application process too. Depending on the way that your business is structured, one or both of these scores may be important.
Unlike personal credit scores, which range from 300-850, most business credit scores rank out of 100. The scale works the same way, though: the higher the number, the better the score.
For banks to give their seal of approval, your business credit score must be at least a 75, if not higher.
Business credit scores aren’t exactly top of mind for most small business owners. But, just under half of the business owners surveyed by Nav indicated they didn’t know their business had a credit score.
This can be a major hangup during the loan application process, when prospective lenders are constantly requesting information.
To make things more complicated, 82% of business owners are unsure about how to properly interpret their credit score. Unlike personal FICO scores, where lenders will make judgements based on the score alone, there’s more to a business credit than just a number.
Upon finding a business credit score, many lenders will investigate deeper. If the score is low, then lenders may check to see their vendor payment histories, and other details. Then, they can make a more informed decision based on this information.
There’s also a clear advantage to understanding business credit scores. Business owners that do understand their credit scores are 41% more likely to be approved, and those that understand their profiles are 31% more likely to consider expansion.
The bottom line: having an in-depth understanding of business credit can prove incredibly valuable in gaining momentum toward finding funding.
5. 79% of Small Business Owners Didn’t Receive Proper Support
The growth process can be a long and winding road. Truthfully, it never ends; the most successful entrepreneurs are always making minor improvements to best position their companies for success.
However, 79% of small business owners feel that, throughout this process, they didn’t receive the necessary support. Instead, many people believe that the government is more invested in larger, more established businesses that don’t require the same foundational support.
In fact, 60% of business owners don’t believe the government cares about their business.
6. 1 in 6 SBA Loans Fail
When it comes to finding sustainable financing that’s the right move for the long term, many business owners think of SBA loans as the holy grail. But finding the right type of financing is rarely that simple—based on the business’s history, the ideal program can vary drastically.
Between 2006 and 2015, 1 in 6 SBA loans went into default. This means that these business owners were unable to repay loans during this period, either due to a lack of cash flow, their business shutting down altogether, or another similar reason.
On average, it took about 4 years for these SBA loans to go into default.
One important factor to consider when finding the right financing program is the goal you’re hoping to achieve.
If you’re using the funding to pay for a long-term project that won’t drive profit for your business, then a long-term program like an SBA loan is the way to go. If the loan isn’t going to help you generate higher profits, then having a longer period of time to pay it off can be imperative.
Depending on your intentions, though, paying back the loan over a shorter period of time can actually be beneficial.
This is particularly true when the loan is intended to generate higher profits. While you may not experience a profit increase overnight, paying back the loan over a shorter period of time ensures that you aren’t paying sky-high interest rates.
Hitting the ground running as a small business owner is one thing, but mastering the art of managing your small business is another.
Only 40% of small businesses are profitable, or yield money after all expenses.
There’s a lot that goes into profitability— including effective resource management, new business generation, and more.
Of the remaining 60%, half break even, and the other half lose money.
Business financing can give you the resources that you need to progress and make it to the next level.
In the small business world, annual sales can vary quite significantly.
As with businesses of any size, this is bound to happen. It’s impossible to apply the same standards to a two-man painting company and a bustling auto repair shop. Simply put, companies of different sizes and with different expenses aren’t bound to generate the same sales numbers.
19% of small businesses generated between $200,000 to $500,000 in annual sales. This may sound like a significant amount of revenue, but when everything is said and done, it’s actually closer to the break-even range (depending on the type of company).
After figuring in payroll, rent payments, materials, insurance, and other regular expenses, there’s not a lot left for the business owner to work with.
According to the same data, 9% of small businesses have annual sales over $1 million. From here, reaching the $5 million threshold requires funding, the right staff, integrated payroll/bookkeeping solutions, marketing campaigns, and other resources.
A small business loan can help you to reach the next threshold as your business continues to grow.
9. 60% of Small Business Owners Aren’t Confident In Finance & Accounting
The skills and expertise of small business owners can vary quite significantly among business owners.
Some have a more technical skill set, and others excel in explaining the value of their company. As the business grows, business owners tend to rely on other people in the company to balance the workload, and provide advice.
One common thread among business owners is a lack of knowledge in finance and accounting. At the end of the day, understanding these topics can help you ensure the financial stability of your company, through both growth periods and slow stretches.
Particularly, business owners tend to experience a lot of confusion understanding cash flow, receivables, and paperwork.
When your business is in the process of growing, mismanaging these financials or moving forward without an understanding isn’t an option. Having a clear understanding of where your business stands is crucial, especially when you’re allocating resources to move forward.
At National, our Business Financing Advisors specialize in helping you to analyze your company’s financials, and provide helpful advice about moving forward. Navigating these difficult waters can be stressful, but having a Business Financing Advisor on your side can help you proceed strategically.
Business owners have all types of expenses, from standard operating costs to marketing, and more, depending on the industry. Taxes can make a significant dent in your expense report, too.
On average, business owners pay a 19.8% “effective” tax rate. Unlike listed tax rates, effective tax rates are calculated by dividing the tax paid by the taxable income.
However, this number does not include every type of tax that small business owners pay. Business owners with employees on their payroll must also factor in:
- Workers’ Compensation
This number also doesn’t include property taxes, which only apply to business owners with an owned physical location.
Many business owners attempt to decrease this cost by filing for tax deductions, like:
- Rent and utility payments
- Building repairs and depreciation
- Travel expenses
And more! To get the full breadth of savings you’re eligible for, be sure to speak with your tax advisor about other applicable deductions.
With expenses amounting quickly, many business owners are unable to pay taxes at the time they’re due, and apply for a tax deduction to postpone this deadline. However, with things constantly in flux, some business owners still find themselves unable to make payments at the end of this period.
In a pinch, a small business loan may be helpful in allowing you to overcome this expense, without detracting from your working capital.
As we mentioned, reducing tax expenses is always a goal for business owners.
And according to the numbers, it’s more of a priority than you might think. 52% of small business owners believe that they pay too much in taxes.
But, not all business owners are exactly educated on the topic. 62% of business owners believe that an accountant might be able to do more to reduce these tax payments.
WIth a virtual accounting team on your side, you can track upcoming tax payments and overall expenses, without the same costs that an in-house employee would incur.
Businesses were keen on receiving funding in 2018, with the economy continuing to take positive steps forward. And the average funding amounts reflect that momentum.
In 2018, the average business loan funding amount was $663,000. This business loan statistic takes into account all businesses— not just those that meet the SBA’s definition for small— which tells a lot about the landscape as a whole.
Critically, the average funding amount does vary based on the lender type. Naturally, larger lenders that appeal to bigger businesses issued larger average fundings. Additionally, smaller lenders (without the same resources) had lower funding amounts:
- Large national banks: $593K
- Small or regional banks: $146K
- Alternative lenders: $50-$80K
Even when considering these details, it’s tough to use this metric as a way to determine the loan amount you should apply for. Businesses in different industries and at different stages have nuanced and unique goals— and your business does too! Rather than examine what other businesses have done, consider instead what you’re looking to do.
Overall, business loans for companies of all sizes grew by 4.7% between 2016 and 2017.
This includes loans for both small and large businesses. As the economy continues to prosper, these numbers will continue to climb!
A lack of capital or cash flow accounts for 29% of business closures. But, this lack of funds can also be a needle in the side for business owners that are still operating and moving full-steam ahead.
According to Guidant Financial, 33% of business owners consider a lack of on-hand funding to be their top obstacle.
This decrease in cash flow can stem from a number of difficulties in your business, but none of them are insurmountable.
Even during slow periods when sales are lower than your target, you can still move forward with growing your business using a working capital loan.
Through National’s programs, this funding can be used to accomplish any purpose— from purchasing new supplies & inventory, hiring new employees, and more!
Anecdotes and business loan numbers can speak quite loudly as far as the current state of the economy is concerned. But the May 2019 small business optimism index also supports this notion.
According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, business owners are more optimistic than ever. That’s not just a year-over-year difference, either. This 105 score is a significant increase from the 101 score in January.
One of the NFIB’s goals is to analyze the small business landscape by surveying business owners, ultimately revealing helpful insights about the economy. The small business optimism score is calculated based on several factors, including (but not limited to):
- Plans to increase employment
- Plans to maintain or purchase new assets
- Plans to increase inventories
In our ongoing efforts to stay in touch with business owners, we surveyed our network of small business contacts and had similar results!
Of the survey participants, 86% responded stating that they planned to grow in 2019. 65% said that they hoped to achieve their goals of boosting staff, and 40% planned to do so by hiring more staff!
You can check out the full survey results on our blog!
Many small business owners consider SBA loans to be the most desirable type of funding available. With the government stepping in to insure the loan in the event that the borrower defaults, lenders are more willing to offer lower rates and higher amounts. The longer payment terms are quite favorable, too.
As of August 2nd, the total funding amount for SBA 7(A) loans was $19,104,882,100.
Owner & Entrepreneur Statistics
According to Salesforce’s 2019 Small & Medium Business Trends report, the American gig economy is thriving. But not everyone with an entrepreneurial streak is channeling it through starting a business they run full time. Particularly, millennials and Gen Zers are 183% more likely to start a side hustle than baby boomers.
In 2019, freelancing is more popular than ever. Starting a “side hustle” allows people to maintain their full-time job with salary & benefits, while still exploring their passions. This is an especially common choice for freelance writers, developers, and others in the marketing world.
Running a small business isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication, and resilience.
No matter how you do it, owning and running a small business can be exhausting— it requires an “always-on” mentality. But done correctly, the rewards are huge.
According to 38% of small business owners, self-discipline is one of the most important ingredients in successfully running a business. This means keeping priorities and goals in mind, no matter the obstacles that you face down the line.
Behind self-discipline, 33% of small business owners also chalked their success up to people and communication skills, and the next 33% to passion and drive. However, it’s not exactly the same across the board.
Interestingly, female entrepreneurs attributed their success to people and communication skills above everything else. Self-discipline was close behind, at 34%, meaning female entrepreneurs still believe this characteristic is quite impactful.
Women entrepreneurs also placed a greater value on money management skills than their male counterparts, when it comes to overall success.
We already covered the qualities that small business owners believe helped them to succeed. But what about the reasons that caused them to plunge into this world in the first place?
55% of business owners decided to start their own companies to be their own bosses. By owning a business, you can set your own direction, rather than follow the beat of another’s drum. As millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to be in a hostile work environment, this motivation makes sense.
The second most common reason was a flexible work schedule, at 36%.
Some service-based businesses are used to the changing of the seasons impacting their bottom line. But as the economy has improved, businesses have been consistently stable, and confident moving into the future.
78% of small business owners reported that they were optimistic about the future of their businesses. Depending on the industry and the current size, this could mean growing in a number of ways, too. From ramped-up marketing strategies, to larger teams, to new locations, the sky’s the limit.
There’s no age requirement to become a business owner. Whether you’re 20 years old or 80, if you have an idea and the determination to execute on it, you can own a business!
The most common age range for business owners was between 50-59 years old. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these business owners recently started their businesses (while that’s a possibility). Instead, it means that these are the business owners who persisted, made the necessary changes, and ventured into the future.
Behind this category, the second most common age range was 40-49.
From accounting firms to trucking companies, small businesses run the gamut quite a bit when it comes to industry. Like age, there are no set-in-stone requirements as far as education is concerned.
In fact, the last educational milestone for many small business owners was high school—this was the highest level of education for 33%. Just below that, 29% had a Bachelor’s degree.
This means over half of small business owners believe in the value of experience and on-the-job learning than formal education.
Higher levels of education didn’t exactly correlate with increased profits, either.
It’s difficult to conceive of the number of small businesses driving an impact throughout the country.
The number declined during the recession, but with the recent economic boon, the small business world is thriving.
As of 2015, toward the beginning of this period, there were 30.2 million small businesses. However, not all of them are the large companies that align with the typical “small business”. In fact, 24.3 million, or 80%, had no employees at all. Only 5.9 million, or 20%, actually had paid employees.
With the current momentum, this number will only continue to climb!
The vast majority (99.9%) of firms are small businesses.
Generally, companies that are considered firms offer some type of professional service. Specifically, in the legal or medical space. However, there are no precise guidelines that define what space a firm can or cannot be in.
Instead, firms are defined by the fact that they are formed as a partnership between at least two people. While any company can technically be considered a firm, this designation is most common for businesses that offer more professional services.
As we mentioned earlier, 80% of small businesses had 0 employees, operating instead as vehicles for freelancers and single-person operations. This leaves only 20% of small businesses to create jobs for an employment-hungry workforce.
But that doesn’t mean there was a shortage of new jobs, either.
On the contrary, small businesses moved full steam ahead in creating new opportunities, with a total of 8.4 million new jobs between 2000-2017.
Small businesses were the primary contributor in terms of creating new jobs, even over large businesses. In fact, small businesses generated 4 million more jobs than large businesses, which only generated 4.4 million during the same time range.
Starting a new small business can be an exciting time. It’s the culmination of your efforts, and an opportunity to pursue your dreams.
But unfortunately, these new ventures don’t always end up working in favor of the business owners.
Between 2005-2007, 78.6% of small businesses survived for only one year.
Business closures can happen for a number of reasons, among them a fast-changing market, inefficient management, and disorganization. One of the most common reasons for businesses to fail or close, however, is a lack of cash flow.
Alternative lending rose in popularity in 2008, around the height of the financial crisis. Now, it’s easier than ever for business owners experiencing cash flow challenges to rectify these issues by obtaining funding.
There’s a difference between running a business and effectively running a business. If you break even, your business might not shut down, but it’s not quite the ideal scenario, either.
According to a survey from Guidant Financial, 78% of business owners reported profits in 2019. This speaks to the rising happiness levels of business owners as well.
There’s never been a better time to open or own a small business. Not only is the market filled with voids waiting to be filled, but consumers are waiting to spend their money on the right products and services.
As of 2019, business services and restaurant segments are the most popular options.
Business owners have experienced the positive effects of the economic boom first-hand. For that reason, business services, or B2B companies are performing better than ever.
Restaurants are often considered a luxury, but one that’s easier to justify when things are good. Not to mention, with employees pitching in to business at all hours, people have less time than ever to accomplish the things they need to. Restaurants are one of the primary businesses to capitalize on this lack of time, and provide convenience for busy entrepreneurs.
However, growing consumer cultural trends have made an impact on the market as well. Close behind business services and restaurants, healthy/beauty/fitness came in at 10%. As employees develop a higher spending budget, they have more money to spend on health-related products.
Owner Challenge Statistics
Successfully owning and operating a business in this day and age is a road filled with constant challenges.
There are significant obstacles to overcome at every stage. But for 60% of business owners, hiring qualified employees is the biggest one.
Having employees on your team doesn’t necessarily mean you can accomplish everything you need to. If your employees aren’t properly trained or able to service your customers effectively, then they could be holding the business back.
The second biggest challenge was accessing capital, which is also the biggest reason that small businesses close.
For small businesses, half of the challenge is persuading customers that you’re the right fit to accomplish the task. At 23%, small business owners consider sales to be the most important role in the company’s success.
If you’re not selling your company, then you’re probably not bringing in the necessary revenue.
Customer service came in at a close second, at 22%.
This is no coincidence, as these roles are related, and the most customer-facing.
However, this factor isn’t exactly the same for companies of different sizes.
Medium-sized companies were more likely to consider IT to be a critical ingredient.
32. 53% of SMB Owners Felt They’re At a Disadvantage in Customer Service, Compared to Larger Enterprises
Customer service can make or break your company’s chances for success. If customers feel they aren’t being taken care of considering what they’ve paid for, then they may be likely to cut off this payment. This is especially risky if there are competitors out there who can accomplish the same thing.
For this reason, 53% of small business owners felt they were at a disadvantage in terms of customer service. When it comes to providing a good experience, larger companies have more resources and established procedures. Some small business owners feel these larger companies are better suited to meet these expectations than they are.
Not all obstacles are directly related to performance. For some companies, day-to-day operations can be just as challenging.
13% of small business owners considered administration work to be a top challenge. With acquiring new business and servicing current clients as top priorities, finding time to take care of everything else can be a hassle. It’s easy for things like payroll, bookkeeping, and other necessary (but not profitable) tasks to fall by the wayside.
To solve this issue, many businesses are turning to outsourcing companies that take care of these tasks for them.
Technology is an important investment for small businesses of all sizes.
Now, technology can mean a variety of different things. But across industries and different types of tech, business owners considered ease of use to be the top priority.
Behind ease of use, 63% of business owners also cared about how trustworthy they considered the technology vendor to be. The ability to invest in new technology with the knowledge that it will benefit your company can go a long way.
Other factors, like pricing, speed during both use and setup, and maintenance were also important.
Being a tech-forward company no longer means having high-speed internet access. Now, businesses that utilize technology to the fullest do so through a variety of different channels.
One of the most important digital tools that small businesses use is a CRM, or a customer relationship management tool. CRM platforms like Hubspot and Salesforce allow businesses to easily track details about customers without consuming massive amounts of time.
Crucially, CRMs allow businesses to provide top notch customer service, and also report on how they’re serving customers.
Many business owners understand the value behind CRMs, which can often be expensive. 31% of small business owners consider this to be a priority.
Modern customers aren’t willing to sit and wait until a human can answer their questions. To satisfy these expectations in the short term, more and more companies are considering integrating AI chatbots.
Unlike human support teams, AI chatbots can answer simple, common questions right away. They’re by no means a replacement for human customer service, but an economical way to satisfy these expectations in the short term.
And with considerable AI technology developments in progress (and on the horizon), there’s more to come.
Who’s to say what’s on the horizon for the ever-changing world of business?
Consumers are prioritizing convenience and ease of use now more than ever, sometimes over price. As we move into a world where resources and products are available at the tip of our fingertips, these changes will likely continue.
Primarily, the best way to achieve convenience is by using technology to its full potential. Tech plays a crucial role in empowering both large and small businesses to accomplish their goals, while maintaining the quality of the experience or products that they’ve come to love. To keep this momentum moving full-steam ahead, being willing to incorporate technology is essential.
However, it’s important not to estimate the power of strategically targeted marketing, either. Informing your customers about the value you bring to the table can make all of the difference.
Find The Best Financing Solution Today
With National, the process is frictionless! After being connected with your dedicated Business Financing Advisor, you can learn about the financing programs that you qualify for in minutes, and have funds deposited in your account in days!
Start growing your business today by applying now!
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