Americans’ Confidence in Small Business Slips But Stays High

In the perceived battle between small business and big business, it’s clear which side most Americans place their trust in. Often referred to as the “backbone of the U.S. economy,” a new survey shows that more than two-thirds of consumers show high confidence in the country’s small business. As for the big guys, the results aren’t quite as rosy.

According to a new Gallup poll (also reported on by Marketing Charts), 67% of Americans have either “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in small businesses on the whole. That’s actually slightly lower than the 68% that said the same two years ago and the 70% from last year but remains head and shoulders above the one-quarter of respondents that expressed confidence in big businesses. Incidentally that figure has been on the rise, climbing from 18% in 2016 to 21% in 2017 and now hitting a full 25% — its highest level since 2001. However, with 30% of those surveyed saying they had very little or no confidence in big businesses, overall confidence had a 5% net negative. By comparison only 6% had low confidence in small businesses, yielding a 61% net positive.

For what it’s worth, Gallup also surveyed Americans about their confidence in various verticals and institutions as well. For example banks managed an 8% net positive score with 30% of respondents expressing confidence in them and 22% exhibiting low and no confidence. Elsewhere organized labor barely eeked out a net positive with 26% rating highly, 25% rating lowly, and 45% in the middle. Stepping outside of the business world, the military had the highest net positive at 69% while the United States Congress came out with an overall score of -37.

Despite the slight dip in confidence for small businesses, they still ranked second among the 15 institutions Gallup inquired about. This is really no surprise as Americans have shown a growing support for small businesses in recent years, including through events like Small Business Saturday. However, while not entirely unexpected, some may find it odd that big businesses fared worse than banks — seen by many as enemy #1 about a decade ago — even with the decent bump they saw this year. What’s strange about this is that not only do most small businesses often strive to become large businesses but there are also many big players that could certainly be seen as small business allies. Given this, there may be a bit of a disconnect between the way Americans think of small businesses and larger ones. Regardless, it’s nice to know that the vast majority of Americans think so highly of small businesses and hopefully that goodwill will lead to greater success for many of the country’s entrepreneurs.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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