Small Business Optimism Ticks Up But Threats Still Loom
The past few months have certainly been challenging for a number of the country’s small businesses. Between mandated closures, necessary adjustments and investments required for reopening, and on-going health concerns, business owners have been hit on multiple fronts. Nevertheless it seems as though some are starting to see some hope. According to a recently-released survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, optimism among entrepreneurs is slowly increasing.
To be sure, the majority of small business owners (69%) still say that they’re “very concerned” about the overall impacts of coronavirus. Notably, that figure is down from 85% two months ago. Similarly, while 66% of those surveyed report experiencing weaker than normal customer demand, that too is an improvement from April’s 80%.
Of course, many small businesses still have looming worries. Topping that list, 30% of respondents say their biggest concern is lack of economic security. One-in-five said that the fear of their businesses not being able to fully recover from this episode was their largest worry. Elsewhere 17% stated that providing a safe workplace was their top concern while 14% fretted most about the possibility of a second outbreak and 12% stated that employees or customers contracting the disease was their top concern. On that note, in a bit of good news, 80% of respondents said they haven’t had any cases of COVID-19 at their businesses.
Although there may be a few reasons to be hopeful, there’s also plenty of uncertainty. Reflecting on this latest survey’s results and what’s ahead, NSBA president and CEO Todd McCracken wrote, “Despite these gains in outlook, COVID-19 continues to wreak widespread economic hardship and insecurity among small businesses as a result of the near-constant changing status of the pandemic.” He added, “Business and job growth in this turbulent environment is virtually impossible for most small businesses.” Similarly, NSBA chair Marc Amato warned, “Small-business owners are inherently optimistic and confident in their ability to run their business, however economic insecurity can become an insurmountable hurdle. Absent a clear path forward, we could see a notable reversal of the more positive small-business outlook we’re seeing now.”
During these challenging times, it can be difficult to balance the need to be optimistic and realistic at the same time. Moreover, the continued politicization of the pandemic could breed yet another set of obstacles for business owners to navigate. Ultimately, while the “we’re all in this together” mantra has grown cliche in recent months, it seems as though cooperation and cohesion may make for the best chance of businesses persevering through this. Hopefully, with a steady and mindful approach, America’s small businesses will be able to find success on the other side of the COVID crisis.