The inaugural report aims to track the money-minded trends of small businesses as they navigate financial decisions needed to run and grow their businesses
NEW YORK — American Express (NYSE: AXP) today released its first Small Business Financial Confidence Report, highlighting survey data from 550 U.S. small businesses ranging from fewer than 10 to 500 employees. This ongoing report will explore how economic obstacles and market trends influence small business owners’ financial decisions and confidence.
“This new research reveals that among those surveyed, approximately half of the small business owners feel confident when making financial growth decisions, suggesting there’s considerable opportunity for improvement,” said Anna Marrs, Group President of Global Commercial Services and Credit & Fraud Risk at American Express. “By tracking the financial confidence level of small business owners, this report will help uncover the trends we’re seeing behind key money-making decisions businesses owners must make, how the macroenvironment may impact those decisions, and what can help boost their confidence.”
Do Small Businesses Make Confident Money Decisions?
Leading the report, 54% of small business owners surveyed stated they feel very confident in their ability to make sound growth decisions for their business. When broken down by business size, only 29% of the smallest small businesses say they feel very confident in their ability to make sound growth decisions, compared to 64% of the largest small businesses, highlighting a sizeable confidence gap by business size.
Small Businesses Are AI-Curious
In making business decisions, the U.S. small businesses surveyed are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help them save time (39%), improve data security (21%), and provide more efficient customer service within their business (20%).
Across all small businesses surveyed 41% said that their business is currently prioritizing artificial intelligence to help make business decisions. By size, 16% of small businesses with the fewest employees surveyed say they see the benefits of AI. That percentage more than quadruples among the largest small businesses (75%). Customer service (19%) and marketing (14%) are reported as the primary use cases for these small businesses who use AI. Examining the generational breakdown, Gen-Z and Millennial small businesses (56%) are prioritizing AI regardless of business size, more than older generations (24%).
Small Businesses Are Facing an Increased Need for Staff
The report also revealed that over half (51%) of the small businesses surveyed are currently hiring, with the largest small businesses much more likely to be hiring (89%), compared to the smallest small businesses (20%). 70% of these small businesses are hiring because of financial growth, the creation of new roles, and a general need.
This is particularly true among the Gen-Z and Millennial small businesses surveyed with 27% listing hiring and recruiting as one of their biggest concerns this year.
Small Businesses Decline Opportunities Due to Cash Flow Confidence
The report revealed 32% of small business owners surveyed wish they had more guidance on cash flow and 31% said they want more guidance on managing expenses. This uncertainty around cash flow is impacting their pursuit of growth opportunities. The data showed 41% of small businesses surveyed ‘often’ or ‘always’ turn down potential opportunities because they are unsure about their cash flow.
To help small businesses manage their cash flow, American Express launched Business Blueprint – a digital hub featuring cash flow insights, digital financial products, and an easy way to reach and manage Business Cards.
Methodology: The online survey was conducted between March 20 – 30, 2023, surveying 550 small business leaders, including 250 at the smallest small business (<10 employees), 200 at a medium small business (11-100 employees), and 100 at the largest small business (101-500 employees). The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3 percentage points.
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