Small Business Optimism Persists, Despite the Pandemic

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Businesses and consumers alike are finding ways to adapt and stay resilient during these unprecedented times. Though recovery may take time, a new report confirms the strength of entrepreneurialism and grit of small business owners, who remain optimistic that their businesses will overcome any present and future obstacle with the right resources and preparedness.

In the inaugural American Express Entrepreneurial Spirit Trendex, the study, which polled 1,000 small and mid-sized businesses, revealed notable insights about the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States. Even amidst the pandemic, the survey showed 75% of small business owners are optimistic about their business’s recovery and 82% feel that they are better prepared to handle a future crisis.

They continue to believe in their business and pursuing what they love. Of those surveyed, 81% believe the benefits of owning their own business outweigh the challenges, including financial stability, being their own boss, turning their passion project into a business, and flexibility to set their own hours. The study uncovered more insights showing the current mindset of small businesses.

Small Businesses are Actively Seeking Advice

In order to successfully navigate these unprecedented times, business owners are searching for resources that can properly aid them. Businesses are actively seeking virtual business conferences and webinars (47%), virtual networking events (44%), advice and resources about leading through a crisis (44%) and learning ways to de-stress and stay mindful (42%).

Cash Flow is Top of Mind

No surprise during an economic crisis, over 81% of business owners are prioritizing cash flow management and are identifying ways to cut back spending and increase sales, namely by moving services online. The survey found the top activities are:

  • Increasing marketing efforts (41%)
  • Increasing products/services online (40%)
  • Cutting expenses (36%)
  • Diversifying revenue streams (35%)

Pivot, then Repeat

It would be difficult to find a small business that didn’t need to adapt their operations in some form due to the pandemic. It was the year of pivots for so many, and the survey finds the trend will continue into next year. According to the data, 76% of business owners have pivoted or are in the process of pivoting their business model to maintain revenue, and among those that already pivoted, 73% expect to pivot again in the next year. Staying nimble to meet the demand of new market needs and demands is crucial to maintaining the health of your business, whether there is a pandemic or not.

Taking a Stand

Aside from navigating the pandemic, business owners are also facing an historic moment in the fight for racial justice. Many business owners (43%) are fighting for change through public statements against racial injustice or monetary contributions to a racial justice organizations. Business owners are also making change within their organizations, as 73% of those surveyed aim to increase diversity in the workplace. Top-of-mind actions include:

  • Completely changing their company culture to make diverse employees feel more included (54%)
  • Changing their hiring and recruiting processes (47%)
  • Making measurable commitments to addressing racial injustice in the future (47%)

This year has undoubtedly taken a toll on so many small businesses, yet the data shows the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong with a drive to push onward, improve and succeed. The full report from American Express is available here as well as more ways we can support small businesses this holiday season and into next year.



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