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57 Essential Small Business Statistics for 2019: Big Business Starts Small

Small Business Statistics - A team having a break at the office

Before we get going, let’s begin with a small business definition. According to SBA statistics, a small business is any independently operated company that employs up to 500 people. The number of small businesses in the United States is measured in tens of millions, and they constitute a crucial part of the US economy.

Since the SBA’s definition is very loose, this category includes companies from all industries and doesn’t discriminate between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses. In any case, small businesses drive innovation, reduce unemployment, trade with foreign countries, and provide a large percentage of the nation’s goods and services.

Small entrepreneurs need to be extremely inventive, persistent, and brave to survive in a highly competitive market. With thousands of new small businesses launched every day, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. 

At Fortunly, we want you to be as prepared as possible when it comes time to launch your own small business. That’s why we’ve compiled these business statistics, which we hope will provide a useful insight into the current entrepreneurial landscape. 

All the information you’ll find below comes from reputable sources, including the United States Census Bureau, the National Small Business Association, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank.

Small Business Stats – Editor’s Choice

  • There are 30.2 million small businesses active across the United States.
  • Small firms represent 99.9% of all US businesses.
  • Two-thirds of small businesses last for two years, and about half survive for five years or more.
  • 82% of small businesses fail due to problems with cash flow.
  • It can take as little as six days to open a small business in the United States.
  • Each month, about 543,000 new businesses are founded.

General Small Business Stats

1. According to SBA statistics, there are 30.2 million small businesses active across the United States.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

It’s estimated that these small businesses combined have around 58.9 million employees, which accounts for 47.5% of all employees in the US 

2. Deloitte’s small business report suggests that businesses with fewer than 500 employees represented 99.7% of all US businesses in 2017.

(Deloitte; U.S. Small Business Administration)

This percentage grew to 99.9% in 2018, according to the SBA. This represents almost half of total employment in the US private sector. 

3. It takes only six days to start a small business in the United States.

(World Bank)

The time required to start a business varies from country to country. According to the World Bank, it takes 11 days in Japan, while in Luxembourg it takes 17 days. 

4. When asked about the top challenges in running a business, 33% of small business owners said that it’s a lack of capital or cash flow.

(Guidant Financial; U.S. Small Business Administration)

It costs around $30,000 to start a business, according to the Small Business Administration. However, home-based small businesses can be started for $1,000 to $5,000.

Other major challenges are marketing activities (15%), time management (13%), recruiting (13%), administrative work (13%), and providing benefits (6%). 

5. More small businesses are structured as LLCs than as any other kind of business  (35%).

(National Small Business Association)

LLCs are followed by S corporations (33%), C corporations (19%), sole proprietorships (12%), and partnerships (2%).

Small Business Financial & Revenue Statistics

6. In 2016, a total of 413,325 US companies traded goods with other markets. Small businesses accounted for 98% of exporters and 97% of importers.

(International Trade Administration)

Small and medium-size businesses with fewer than 500 employees exported goods worth a total of $429.3 billion during that year. 

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2016 Export Value by Company Size

7. In 2017, $719 million from the president’s budget was provided for capital, assistance, and contracting opportunities to America’s small businesses.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

This included loan guarantees for more than 65,000 small businesses, encouraging entry into global markets, entrepreneurial training programs, and a host of other incentives.

8. 78% of small business owners involved in a recent survey by Guidant Financial and LendingClub said their business was profitable.

(Guidant Financial)  

On average, respondents rated their level of happiness as eight on a scale from one to 10.

9. More than half of small businesses rely on the entrepreneur’s personal savings to get them off the ground.

(SBE Council)

Aside from that, small businesses rely heavily on traditional debt. Approximately 30% of nonemployer firms and 7% of employer firms began without any startup business capital. 

10. About 33% of small businesses get started with less than $5,000.

(smallbiztrends.com)

Online publication Small Business Trends further reports that 58% of small businesses start operating with less than $25,000. 

11. Besides personal savings, the top sources of capital expansion for small businesses are profits/assets, credit cards, bank loans, home equity, and other personal savings.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

However, according to the national small business bureau, 57% of small businesses surveyed didn’t expand their capital. 

12. Small business loan default rates are currently at an all-time low of less than 2%.

(U.S. Small Business Administration; paynet.com)

The peak of small business loan default rates was in 2009, immediately after the Great Recession, when the average rate was around 6%. 

13. Small business lending statistics show that the most common purpose for using loans is financing equipment or fixed assets.

(FDIC Small Business Lending Survey 2018)

Other common purposes for which small firms use loans include accounts receivable, inventory, and working capital. 

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% of banks that cite this as the purpose for which their small business loan product was used.

14. One in 1,000 US entrepreneurs get venture capital funding.

(smallbiztrends.com)
As such, for new companies it’s better to focus on creating a solid business plan than to look for investments straight away. 

15. The small business share of US GDP fell from 48% to 43.5% between 1998 and 2014.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

Small businesses’ contribution to the GDP of the USA was around $5.9 trillion in 2014, the last year for which data is available. SMEs account for 44% of economic activity in the States. 

16. Some of the most profitable small businesses operate in the following industries: accounting and payroll services, real estate, legal services, enterprise management, and medical services.

(smallbiztrends.com; entrepreneur.com; sageworks.com)

These highly profitable industries stand out because of their net profit margins. Examples of the least-profitable industries include beverage manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, forging and stamping, and, surprisingly, software publishing. 

17. The average CEO has a salary of about $160,000 per year.

(PayScale)

According to this research, 90% of CEOs earn at least $74,000 per year, while only 10% earn $310,000 or more. 

18. 1 out of 3 small-business entrepreneurs report spending more than 40 hours per year on federal taxes.

(National Small Business Association)

When asked how much time they spend each year dealing with taxes (calculating payroll, working with the accountant, filing reports), 11% of small business representatives answered that they spend more than 120 hours. Another 15% said that they spend between 41 and 80 hours on tax-related tasks.

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Approximate time spent each fiscal year on federal taxes

19. Most small businesses spend $1,000 or more per year on federal taxes alone.

(National Small Business Association)

The National Small Business Administration’s 2018 Small Business Survey shows that 3% of small businesses spend more than $40,000 per year just on federal taxes – and that’s not counting accountant fees, legal fees, and other costs. 

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The approximate yearly amount small businesses spend on federal taxes.

20. The largest percentage of small businesses (24%) earned between $1 and $5 million in the most recent fiscal year.

(National Small Business Association)

Only 1% made $150 million or more in gross sales or revenues, 23% earned less than $100,000, and 14% earned between $100,000 and $250,000.

21. More than half of small businesses have a chief financial officer.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Small business research by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International showed that of the 895 firms surveyed, more than 50% of enterprises have a team member responsible for managing finances. 

Small Business Failure Statistics

22. A recent study by US Bank has shown that 82% of small businesses fail due to problems with cash flow.

(entrepreneur.com)

Poor financial management is the number one cause of small business failures, regardless of the industry. 

23. The second-most-common reason why small businesses fail is because there’s no market for their products or services.

(Visual Capitalist)

Of the percentage of small businesses that fail, 42% found there was no need for their products or services, 23% didn’t have the right team, and 19% were simply beaten by their competition. 

24. Around two-thirds of small businesses last for two years, while around half survive for five years.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

This indicates that the small business success rate improves as the business ages. 

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["1995: %{y}","2000: %{y}","2005: %{y}","2010: %{y}"]
Survival rates for businesses by foundation year

25. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics the small business failure rate is 20% in the first year of running a business.

(U.S. Department of Labor; Fundera)

And if you’ve ever wondered how many small businesses in the US fail after 10 years in business, the answer is 70%. 

26. Each month, about 543,000 new businesses are founded.

(Forbes)

Nonetheless, the small business failure rate (the number of businesses that are shut down) on a monthly basis is higher than that. 

27. Small business founders are more likely to succeed if they’ve previously failed than first-timers.

(SSRN)

Founders of a previously successful small business have a 30% chance of success. On the other hand, founders who have failed with a prior venture have a 20% odds, while first-time entrepreneurs have an 18% chance of not becoming a number among the small business failure statistics

28. Having two founders (one technical and one business developer) instead of one small business owner increases the chances for success.

(Startup Genome Report)

Such teams raise 30% more funds, have 2.9 times more customer growth, and are 19% less likely to scale too fast. 

29. The National Small Business Association (NSBA) reports that more than one-third of small business owners feel very confident about their future success.

(National Small Business Association)

Right now, this indicator is the highest it has been for more than 10 years. As many as 84% of small enterprises expressed some degree of confidence about the future of their business. 

30. Selling services rather than products decreases the chance of failure.

(Xero)

According to Xero’s 2017 Make or Break Report, 59% of small businesses selling services survive five years, compared to 49% of failing companies. More than twice as many businesses that were selling products failed—41% in comparison to just 19% that survived.

31. Successful small businesses prioritize investments in technology.

(Xero)

Almost 6 out of 10 small business survivors (58%) use software to manage their finances versus 14% of failed businesses in comparable businesses.

Small Business in America: Statistics About Employment

32. Firms with fewer than 100 employees have the biggest share of small business employment.

(United States Census Bureau; JP Morgan Chase & Co.)

Around 18% of all employees in the USA. work in companies with fewer than 20 employees.

33. Actually, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees created 1.1 million net jobs in 2015, which was the largest proportion of new small business jobs that year.

(United States Census Bureau)

Small enterprises continue to have a significant positive impact on the employment rate in the US. During 2015, small businesses created a total of 1.9 million net jobs. Companies employing 100 to 499 employees added 387,874 net jobs. 

34. According to the US Census Bureau, 62% of businesses in the States have five or fewer employees.

(U.S. Small Business Administration)

Official US small business statistics show that nearly two-thirds of businesses in America had five or fewer employees in 2014. 

35. Over a period of three months, more than 500,000 new jobs are currently generated by small companies in the United States.

(U.S. Small Business Administration; U.S. Department of Labor)

For example, in Q3 2016, about 240,000 startups were founded, generating more than 870,000 new jobs. However, during the same period, about 215,000 startups were closed, which resulted in almost 750,000 jobs lost. 

Small Business in the USA: Statistics Related to Demography

36. According to Guidant Financial’s small business owners statistics, 73% of founders are male.

(Guidant Financial)

One-third (33%) of small business owners have only a high school diploma, while 20% have a master’s degree or doctorate.

37. Between 1997 and 2017, female entrepreneurship grew by more than 114%.

(American Express)

When it comes to the number of small businesses in the US owned by non-Caucasian women, that growth rate is significantly bigger: 467%.

Millennials as the Small Business Workforce

38. In 2016, millennials became the largest workforce generation in the States.

(Pew Research Center)

Anyone who is considering starting a small business should have in mind the work ethics of millennials. People born between 1981 and 1996 constitute the largest segment of the US labor force; more than one-third of American workers (35%) belong to this generation. 

39. 100% of millennial small business owners that generate between $1M and $10M in revenue believe that AI and machine learning will impact their industry in the next 5 years.

(Business Insider; Capital One Small Business Growth Index)

Capital One Small Business Growth Index findings suggest that millennial business owners are more open to innovation, more optimistic when it comes to business success, and more likely to offer benefits to their employees. 

40. Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

(Inc.com; Forbes; Cox BLUE)

Multiple studies show that millennials are willing to work for small and medium enterprises. SMEs provide opportunities that are very appealing for this generation, such as taking more responsibilities earlier or the ability to work on their own terms. According to a survey by Bentley University, 77% of millennials say that flexible work hours make them more productive. 

41. 74% of millennials who like their jobs are planning to quit within the next 3 years.

(Forbes; Qualtrics)

Another factor that small business owners should consider when it comes to the largest workforce generation is their loyalty. The Millennial Study by Qualtrics and Accel finds that 83% of millennials are generally satisfied with their current workplace, but 43% expect to change jobs within the next 12 to 18 months anyway. 

One of the major reasons for this is the fact that millennials are always looking for better opportunities and career growth. 

42. More than 62% of millennials believe that virtual meetings (video calls, online chats) encroach on face-to-face meetings.

(Meetings Mean Business)

Millennials actually prefer face-to-face meetings over virtual communication at the workplace. According to one study, 41% of millennials feel overwhelmed with information overload, versus 31% of older generations. 

43. Millennials already run 16% of small businesses in the US.

(Thrive Global; Gallup; Quickbooks) 

Members of this generation are starting to run a business much earlier than their parents did (27 versus 35 for baby boomers). Generally speaking, they are entrepreneurial by nature and financially realistic. Millennials value small businesses a lot — according to Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions poll, 33% trust small businesses “a great deal” and 37% trust them “quite a lot.”

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1997-2017 growth rates for women-owned businesses vs. all businesses.

44. More than 25% of businesses in the US are started by immigrants.

(Inc.)

Small business data gathered by Inc.com show that immigrant-owned businesses pay approximately $126 billion in wages on a yearly basis. One in 10 Americans working for private firms are employed by immigrant-owned small businesses.

45. An estimated 8 million US small businesses are owned by people from a minority background.

(Kabbage)

Of these, 3.4% are owned by Native Americans, 27.75% are Asian-owned, 32.5% are owned by African Americans, and 41.25% are owned by citizens of Hispanic origin.

46. The majority of American companies with fewer than 500 employees are located in the South, not on the West Coast.

(National Small Business Association)

The NSBA end-of-year report for 2017 identified that 27% of small businesses were located in the South, followed by 22% of firms located in the Mid-Atlantic. Small businesses located in the Pacific region accounted for 15% of the overall number. 

Small Business Marketing Statistics

47. More than 40 million small businesses use Facebook pages to promote their brand, products, or services.

(DMR; Crowdspring)

75% of these firms use paid advertising, including boosted posts and longer-term social media marketing campaigns.

48. Even in 2014, 94% of small companies had used smartphones to conduct their business. Today, running a business is unimaginable without smart devices.

(SBE Council)

The majority of businesses estimate they save up to $6,000 per year by using mobile apps.

49. However, 51 percent of small business owners in 2016 were reluctant to use new technologies because of the time it takes to implement them.

(Business Insider)

According to the 2016 State of Small Business Report by UPS CONNECT, 64% of small businesses use social media for business advice, 62% consult industry peers, 52% browse the internet, and 44% use business-related media.

50. Every small business should consider these marketing statistics: 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a poor experience.

(Econsultancy)

The majority of Americans prefer to shop online. Most people who don’t like a particular eCommerce website will shop somewhere else next time.

51. Firms that have a blog on their website generate 126% faster lead growth than those that don’t.

(HubSpot)

Small business growth statistics provided by HubSpot also suggest that a neat landing page, a presence on social media, and strong keywords contribute to generating more leads.

52. Despite the stats listed above, 80% of small businesses still do not invest in content marketing.

(Clutch)

Marketing experts agree that such firms are missing a key opportunity to increase sales, customer loyalty, and brand awareness. 

Small Business Website Statistics

53. Almost two-thirds of small companies rely on websites to engage potential customers.

(Clutch)

According to Clutch, 64% of small businesses had a website at the beginning of 2018.

54. 47% of small businesses experienced at least one cyber attack in 2018.

(Hiscox)

Entrepreneurs operating online should also be aware of these small business cyber security statistics: As many as 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. 

Small Business Sociology

55. In 2012, 69% of new small businesses were founded at home.

(smallbiztrends.com)

Around 60% of established small businesses older than 3.5 years continue to operate from home. 

56. The top three small business trends in 2019 are remote employment, outsourcing, and the adoption of IT tools.

(USA Today)

Unemployment in the USA, has hit a historical low, so employers are having a difficult time finding quality talent. Many businesses will now have to opt for mobile workers, as there’s an increasing demand to work remotely.

Another solution is to hire freelancers instead of full-time employees. Powerful online tools (such as cloud apps) that allow work to be done remotely also support collaboration on a truly global scale.

57. The most popular motivation for someone to start a small business is determination to be their own boss.

(Guidant Financial)

In a survey by Guidant Financial, 26% of responders said they wanted to be their own boss, while 23% said they wanted to pursue their own passion. 

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Motivation for starting a small business

And there you have it! We hope this list of small business statistics helps you better understand the challenges and potential benefits of starting up your own business. If you have the chance, we’d encourage you to choose small companies over large corporations when purchasing products and services. By doing business with small local firms, you’re directly helping the economy, while also supporting innovators like yourself.

Sources:

  • https://sba.gov
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  • http://www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com
  • https://thriveglobal.com
  • https://thriveglobal.com
  • http://news.gallup.com
  • https://quickbooks.intuit.com

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