Small biz owners continue optimism despite challenges

As the US economy continues to re-emerge, small business owners remain optimistic for the future despite many formidable challenges that have been placed before them. No one has a handle on the pulse of the economy like small business owners despite the posturing of those who are nowhere near the front lines. Optimism is being sorely tried as a new report issues by Metlife and the US Chamber of Commerce illustrates just how precarious that optimism is. The following findings come directly from that recently published report:

  • The Q2 2021 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index (SBI), released this week, finds that as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, states lift restrictions, and businesses continue to reopen, a majority (65%) of small business owners are more optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is over.
  • According to the poll taken April 21 – May 6, the dominant emotion small business owners are feeling about their current operating strategy is “hopeful” (44%). Thirty-one percent say they are “comfortable” and 24% say they are “concerned,” rounding out the top three current feelings.
  • When it comes to views of the economy, positive outlooks are growing and negative ones are declining. Currently, 27% of small businesses rate the overall U.S. economy as good, up from 21% who said the same in Q1. Driving this uptick is the decreasing number of small businesses seeing the economy as bad. While 46% continue to say the national economy is poor, this is the first time this measure has fallen below 50% during the pandemic. Just last quarter, fully 60% of small businesses said the economy was poor (a drop of 14 points in one quarter).

Metlife & US Chamber comparison data from Q4 2020 to Q2 2021

  • COVID habits may be here to stay. 76% of small businesses intend to keep all COVID-19 safety precautions in place until the coronavirus pandemic ends.
  • In a tight labor market, employers are holding onto the workers they have. Most small businesses anticipate retaining the same staffing level (52% say they will do so this quarter versus 49 percent in Q1 2021). Thirty-two percent plan to increase staffing (same as Q1) and around one in ten (11%) plan to decrease staffing over the next year.
  • Small businesses see revenue improving in the future. Over half (57%) of small businesses anticipate their revenue increasing this year, up 10 percentage points compared to last quarter, marking the most positive outlook of this metric during the pandemic.

-Written by Kevin Sawyer