Facebook Survey Highlights Small Business Challenges, Adaptations

It’s no secret that the past few months have been incredibly challenging for many small businesses. Because of this, there has been a slew of recent surveys seeking to quantify the impacts that the pandemic has had on entrepreneurs. The latest of such reports comes from Facebook, which surveyed small business leaders in more than 50 countries back in May.

With Facebook’s survey spanning the globe, it’s interesting to note that, overall, more than a quarter of small businesses closed for at least some period of time between January and May of 2020. Yet, in some counties, this figure topped 50%. Naturally businesses involved with tourism and hospitality saw even larger closure rates, reaching 54% and 47% respectively.

As we’ve seen in other surveys, the majority of businesses that are reopening are still seeing a significant decrease in sales. Facebook found that 62% of businesses that had resumed operations reported that sales in the month prior were lower than the same period last year. Moreover, 57% said the drop in sales amounted to 50% or more.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those businesses in the hotel, cafe, and restaurant industries were among the hardest hit, with 76% noting lower sales. Other notably impacted verticals included transportation and logistics (69%), manufacturing (64%), and services (63%). Unfortunately, these declines have also necessitated staffing cuts for several businesses, with one-third of respondents noting that they were forced to layoff employees. On the other hand, 8% of currently closed businesses said they would be seeking new workers to hire once they were able to reopen.

One underacknowledged impact of the pandemic is that, in some cases, entrepreneurs have had to continue running their businesses while also tending to greater domestic duties due to school closures and other factors. According to Facebook’s survey, 23% of female business owners spent more than six hours a day on home tasks and child care while managing their businesses. Meanwhile, 11% of males said the same.

Finally, while there are certainly still struggles, small businesses are beginning to adapt their business models to the current conditions. For example Facebook notes that many business have recently made efforts to open an online store and increase their digital presence. In turn, in nearly all of the countries surveyed, one-third of respondents said that online orders made up at least 25% of their sales. Additionally, in 15 countries, half of those surveyed reported reaching this threshold.

Considering that Facebook’s survey was conducted two months ago, things have certainly evolved in a number of nations — including here at home. Despite this, it’s interesting to see this global snapshot. On top of that, while some of these issues may subside as businesses themselves are able to reopen, others such as the need for entrepreneurs to manage additional workloads at home may not be solved for some time. Elsewhere, it’s encouraging to see that a number of businesses are successfully navigating new arenas such as ecommerce. So while the next few months will likely continue to be challenging, hopefully the small businesses that do survive will come out stronger overall.


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 DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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