Ever wondered if your small business is an outlier, or wanted to know if your challenges were the norm?
Here at Business.org, we wanted to learn more about the businesses we help—what they’re like, what challenges they face, etc. And now that we have the answers, we’re sharing them with you.
We hope our data answers some of your questions and concerns about how other businesses operate, and maybe even help you learn a thing or two.
Business.org surveyed 500 small-business owners across the United States using PollFish. We wanted to learn more about small-business owners and how we can help them. Our survey was completed in September 2019.
What we asked
We wanted to know a variety of things about small-business owners: what their businesses look like, how they run them, and what products and services they use along the way. Here’s what we learned.
How many years have you been in business?
Most businesses haven’t been around that long. Our biggest chunk of businesses (31%) were between three and five years old. Of the 36% of businesses that were two years old or less, a little over one-third were less than one year old. Companies over ten years old were the rarest group, with just 13% of businesses.
How many employees do you have?
Most business owners keep things small, with 52% of respondents employing between 1 and 5 people. One-quarter of our surveyed businesses employ between 6 and 25 people. Only 2% of business owners reported more than 100 employees.
How would you describe your business credit?
The majority of small-business owners (53%) report that they have good business credit, and about one-quarter (26%) have exceptional credit. Just 2% of respondents admitted to having poor credit, while 16% say they have fair credit. Very few business owners (3%) simply don’t know what shape their business credit is in.
How often do you shop at local small businesses?
Looks like business owners like to support other business owners: 45% of respondents said they “always” shop at small businesses, while another 23% shop at small businesses two to five times per month, and 31% shop local at least once a month. Just 1% of business owners said they never shop local.
Running the business
What is the biggest challenge you face in running a business?
Financing is the biggest challenge for 34% of business owners, though marketing takes the cake for 31%. Just over one-quarter of small businesses call accounting their biggest challenge, and less than 10% said inventory management.
What is the most stressful part of managing your business finances?
Managing costs bring the stress for 36% of business owners. Another third said business taxes cause the most stress. Just over 17% of business owners found applying for financing to cause the most stress. Only a handful of business owners found bookkeeping and payroll the most stressful—10% and 5%, respectively.
How do you complete daily accounting?
Around 66% of business owners do their own accounting work, while 22% assign the task to an employee. The rest hire a professional.
Products and services
What is your business most likely to borrow capital for?
When it came to reasons for borrowing capital, equipment purchases topped the list for 36% of businesses. Inventory and taxes were the next most common reasons (20% and 16%, respectively), with startup costs and working capital rounding out the list (14% each).
Would you prefer to use software or hire someone for your accounting and bookkeeping needs?
Business owners had a pretty close split on their accounting preferences: 48% would rather hire someone to do it for them, but 52% would prefer to do it themselves with software.
Does your business use a point-of-sale program?
A bit more than half (55%) of businesses use some kind of point-of-sale system.
Are your business accounts at a credit union or a bank?
Banks rule business, with more than two-thirds of businesses (69%) keeping their accounts at a bank.
How do you feel about your business insurance coverage?
Almost 75% of business owners feel they have an adequate amount of insurance coverage, but 23% worry they’re not insured enough. Only a small minority of 3% feel they’re overly insured.
Our survey results show that there’s no one way to run a small business. Entrepreneurs have many different experiences and face many different challenges. So while we hope our data gives you some useful points for comparison, you don’t need to worry if your business looks different than most others.
At any rate, Business.org will keep learning as much as we can about small businesses and the people that run them—and we’ll keep using that information to help entrepreneurs like you.
Are there more questions you want small-business owners to answer? Tell us in the comments below.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.