What’s on small business owners’ minds? You can’t find out unless you ask!

We pored over the results of our 2016 client survey to find out how business owners are faring. The survey shares feedback from more than 18,000 entrepreneurs – all of them SCORE clients! Their candid responses, encompassing every stage of business ownership, illuminate the state of small business across the country.

We collected these insightful results to create our first data report with corresponding infographic, The Megaphone of Main Street.

Aspiring business owners

Respondents who had not yet started their business reported that the most critical services for business success were marketing and sales, followed by finding financial assistance and general business operations. Entrepreneurs across all stages of the business life cycle were most concerned with marketing and sales.

Sources of guidance for pre-startups are diverse, with about 40 percent of advice for respondents coming from their peers, web searches and friends and family.

Why include information about people who haven’t started a business yet? Census data and other surveys typically don’t collect data from this demographic. But since SCORE serves our clients “for the life of your business,” we know that initial idea conception and planning stage is an important time to support aspiring small business owners.

Start-up businesses

Start-up businesses in their first year of operation reported being self-funded, with only 14 percent of respondents saying they obtained financing. Of that group, SBA loans and equity raised from investors were far less common than loans from other sources.

The impact of those start-up businesses on their communities has been nearly immediate; 46 percent of responding start-ups were able to hire in their first year, creating work for three people on average.

Established businesses

Many established small businesses remain small and can be classified as microbusinesses: they have between zero and four employees, including the owner. Ninety-two percent of all businesses are microbusinesses, but they create the most jobs, by far. But 65 percent of microbusinesses surveyed report they’re struggling or stagnant.

Fifty-eight percent of established small businesses said their primary source of answers to their business questions was other business owners or peers, highlighting again the importance of mentoring through the full life cycle of business.

Want to ask a trusted source about your business venture? Whether you’re just thinking about entrepreneurship, have a start-up business or have been operating for a while, meeting with a SCORE mentor can help you gain new perspective on your small business goals.

Read more about The Megaphone of Main Street,Volume 1 Data Report.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Hear from Small Business Owners in our Megaphone of Main Street Report