Despite slowing economy, small business confidence is actually soaring into 2024

NEW YORK — Despite the latest reports on the economy slowing down and unemployment ticking up, many Americans are actually painting a bright picture of their financial future this holiday season. More than three-quarters of small business owners believe their company is equipped to handle any upcoming economic instability.

A survey of 1,000 small business owners reveals that increased interest rates (61%), inflation (59%), and a looming recession (44%) are small business owners’ top economic concerns for the remainder of 2023.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Melio, the survey asked small business owners about inflation and the impact of the rocky economic climate. Results also reveal that record-high inflation has driven 62 percent of small business owners to make tough decisions about their businesses this year. Specifically, small businesses have tapped into different financial resources, including savings accounts and loans (61%), adapted prices (50%), and reduced the production of various goods and services (45%).

Other small businesses have raised prices (38%) or reduced staff (35%) as a result of inflation.

Though almost half (48%) of respondents have raised their prices by an average of seven percent over the last six months, those that increased their prices are still reporting an increase in repeat business (66%), sales (63%), and number of new clients (56%).

small business
(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

Interestingly, despite inflation and other economic concerns, 72 percent of small business owners feel more optimistic now about the financial prospects of their company than they did at the beginning of the year. This might be due in part to some of the changes they have made this year. Respondents have increased their advertising and marketing efforts (66%), increased their digital presence (58%), and started selling products online (52%).

In fact, two-thirds (67%) believe that having an online presence is more important to small businesses than it used to be.

On Nov. 3, the U.S. Labor Department announced that employers added 150,000 jobs in October 2023, a lower total than expected. Unemployment also rose from 3.8 to 3.9 percent.

“Despite the challenges posed by inflation and interest rates, small business owners seem to adapt to the current economic climate and demonstrate impressive agility and resilience,” says spokesperson Tomer Barel, Melio’s president and COO, in a statement. “Small businesses are the foundation of the economy, and it is critical that they have the tools to overcome future challenges.”

Small businesses are interested in digitizing or further digitizing all aspects of their businesses, including bookkeeping and payments (53%), inventory management (51%), and customer service (42%). 

But beyond the importance of their digital footprint, three-quarters feel that it is more imperative than in the past to accept forms of payment other than cash. 

“Since the pandemic began over three years ago, there’s been a strong demand for tools to help small businesses digitize – and that trend has only continued in 2023,” says spokesperson Prashant Gandhi, Melio’s CBO. “Small businesses are embracing new technologies that can help them take control over their finances and weather economic uncertainty.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 small business owners (with a statistically significant amount of African American respondents, Hispanic/Latino respondents and women small business owners) was commissioned by Melio between Sept. 6 and Sept. 13, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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