2022 Annual Small Business Owners Survey Results1

Small businesses take on new challenges with renewed optimism

The past two years have tested small businesses like never before as they’ve been forced to battle supply chain disruptions and labor shortages during an unpredictable pandemic. Small businesses have had to adapt and innovate as they find their way through. Many owners have embraced the chance to build a more resilient business—one that’s ready to respond to challenges and seize opportunities as they emerge.

Tested, confident, less stressed

Confidence in the business remains strong but lags for the economy as a whole.

Percentage of small business owners saying they’re extremely to somewhat confident in:

* Survey completed in February 2020—pre-COVID-19.

Small business owners remain confident in their business prospects and in their local economy but have become more cautious about the overall economy.

Business owner stress levels have fallen since the height of the pandemic.

Percentage of small business owners saying they’re extremely to somewhat stressed:

44%

2020*

57%

2021

47%

2022

* Survey completed in February 2020—pre-COVID-19.

Concern shifts toward inflation and the economy.

Percentage of small business owners who are stressed about:

31%

Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

28%

Inflation

28%

Rising costs

25%

Economic uncertainty

20%

Finding new customers

Owners have responded by investing.

Small business owners say increasing sales efforts is their top business goal for 2022, and 91% are following through by prioritizing marketing and sales investments that will yield new customers.

Marketing and sales investments lead the way.

91% of small businesses anticipate making marketing and sales investments.

Top investments in customer outreach and customer service

Top investments in customer outreach and customer service

Percentage of small business owners who say one of their top sources of customer impact is:

Social and search engine marketing

43%

Online presence/ecommerce/website

41%

Email, text and campaign marketing

40%

Point of sale ordering and payment

32%

Financial payments processing

29%

Small businesses respond to supply chain disruptions.

After coping with closures and health restrictions, small businesses have had to manage through supply chain disruptions that have had a material effect on profitability, sales, and customer retention.

Two thirds of small businesses experienced supply chain problems.

Supply chain disruptions affected overall business performance.

Supply chain disruptions affected overall business performance.

Percentage of small business owners experiencing supply chain issues who suffered:

Lower profitability

45%

Reduced sales

42%

Loss of customers

36%

Limited operation hours

32%

Competitive disadvantage

26%

Actions to overcome supply issues

Actions to overcome supply issues

Percentage of small business owners experiencing supply chain issues who:

Found new supply sources

48%

Used local suppliers

45%

Adjusted delivery schedules

37%

Reduced product line

31%

Changed product mix

30%

Holding onto staff and trying to fill job gaps

Staffing has become a dominant issue, with 81% of small businesses taking action to retain employees and two-thirds of small businesses trying to keep their businesses going with a workforce that has dramatically changed.

Filling staff gaps

81% of small businesses took action to address the staffing shortage

Actions taken to retain staff

Actions taken to retain staff

Percentage of small business owners who:

Increased wages

41%

Offered remote work

27%

Provided training

22%

Additional paid time off

21%

Referral bonuses

21%

Hiring bonuses

21%

Health and wellness program

20%

Top ways that small business workforce has changed

Top ways that small business workforce has changed

  1. Operated with unfilled jobs
  2. Lost key workers
  3. Shifted work between contractors and employees
  4. Used more automation
  5. Replaced workers with outsourced service

Small businesses have taken a variety of actions in response to inflation.

Supply and labor shortages and the resulting rising costs have pressured margins and demanded action. Whether to protect profitability or to take advantage of a market that expects rising prices, small business owners have taken the opportunity to raise prices and make changes to the cost structure of their products.

Protecting against inflation

90% of small businesses have taken pricing action to handle inflation

Pricing actions to combat inflation

Pricing actions to combat inflation

Percentage of small business owners who:

Accepted lower profitability

39%

Changed purchasing decisions to reduce expenses

36%

Revaluated pricing vs. market/competition

35%

Passed along price increases to my customers

33%

Changed product/service to make less expensive

26%

Cash shortfalls down but still a challenge

Cash shortfalls are down from last year but still much higher than pre-pandemic. Small business owners have turned to cash reserves, bank financing, tightening accounts receivables, and personal resources.

Small businesses experienced more cash shortfalls.

Percentage of small business owners experiencing cash shortfalls in the past:

45% 2020* 91% 2021 84% 2022

Cash to cover shortfalls came first from cash reserves.

Cash to cover shortfalls came first from cash reserves.

Percentage of small business owners covering cash shortfalls with:

Business cash reserves

33%

Business line of credit

33%

Owner cash infusion

29%

Owner personal loan

26%

Squeeze AR

22%

Stop paying myself a salary

21%

* Survey completed in February 2020—pre-COVID-19.

Build on your resilence and stay ahead of the coming challenges.

Our teammates bring firsthand advice and expertise for every stage of your business. Set up an appointment with a Truist branch teammate today, call 877-279-3083 to speak with a Small Business Consultant, or visit Truist Small Business to learn how we can help your business reach its goals in 2022.