As a small business owner you need to be an expert on everything from marketing to security; and you need to have a firm understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates. It is also important to get a feel for how other small business owners are approaching economic and operational challenges in order to gauge your success, and to identify areas where you may be behind the curve as well as those where you have a strategic advantage.

The following seven research reports, all published this year, provide valuable insights on small business markets and marketing, as well as general business, marketing, and security trends that affect businesses of all sizes. Use these reports to benchmark your company, and to craft the strategies that will help your small business thrive in 2016 and beyond.

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2016 Reports on Small Business


United States Small Business Profile, 2016
from the Small Business Administration (SBA)

This report from the SBA provides detailed information on the small business landscape in each of the 50 US States. While some of the data is from as far back as 2013, 2015 year end statistics are also included.

Each state profile includes the number of small businesses it has as and the percentage of business in the state that represents, as well as the number of small business employees and the percentage of all employees that represents. Also included are employment and income numbers for the state and how that compares to national averages. And, sections are included that provide statistics for small business owner demographics, small business turnover, international trade, and breakdowns by industry.

Interesting Stats (from 2013 data):

  • California has the highest number of small businesses (3.7 million)
  • California has the largest number of small business employees (6.7 million)
  • California added the most new small business jobs (244,926)
  • 99.2% of all jobs in California are small business jobs (the highest of 50 states)
  • Montana has the highest percentage of employees working for small businesses (67.4%)


2016 State of Small Business Report
from UPS

This survey of small business founders, partners, presidents, and CEOs asked about their overall business outlook, their plans for business expansion, financing and how they utilize technology. The short report is a quick read, and provides some interesting insights, including:

  • On a scale of 1-7, the respondents rated their confidence in future success at an average 5.32.
  • Top business priorities were identified as increasing revenue, increasing profit, and establishing new customer relationships.
  • 54% of respondents report plans to grow their businesses locally and 33% to grow nationally. That’s a minor decrease from 2014, but a significant increase from 2013.
  • 48% of small businesses report using at least one Cloud service. Office & Productivity tools are currently the most used cloud applications (68%), while financial applications are at the top of the list for new cloud implementations (36%). (If you’re thinking about using a cloud based payments application, be sure to check out PaySimple.)


2016 State of Small Business Report
from Wasp Barcode Technologies

This survey of 1,100 small businesses (size from 5-500 employees, with most falling in 5-100 range), across a variety of industries, is presented as a large online infographic. Each section covers opinions on a different topic, from government to the economy to marketing to revenue growth strategies. The results are broken down by business size, which not only makes it easy to compare your business with similar ones, it also highlights how perceptions differ based on company size.

Interesting Stats:

  • 50% of respondents think the government doesn’t do enough to help small businesses, while 10% think the government should not be involved with small businesses at all.
  • Half of all respondents plan to hire new employees in 2016, and hiring was cited as the top business challenge in 2016.
  • 71% of small businesses expect an increase in revenue in 2016.
  • 44% of small businesses plan to increase IT spending in 2016.


2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report
from Leadpages & Infusionsoft

This survey of 1,026 self-identified small business owners from across the U.S. was conducted via an online questionnaire they accessed with a mobile device. The survey consisted of 10 marketing related questions. (It would be interesting to compare these results to a similar survey of small business owners who do not use mobile devices– if you conduct one let me know!) The report also includes sections on opportunities and projections for the future.

Interesting Stats:

  • 47% of all small business owners handle marketing by themselves.
  • Over half of respondents report plans to spend more on their websites and on digital advertising/social media marketing. While only 25% plan to increase email marketing spend.
  • 48.5% of small business respondents do not know whether their marketing efforts are successful.
  • 57.8 % of respondents report posting on social media as a customer generation tactic.


2016 Industry Reports


2016 State of Marketing Report
from Salesforce

Conducted this year, this survey of 3,975 fulltime marketing leaders in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, the Nordics, Japan, and Australia included respondents in both B2B and B2C roles. It is a long report covering a wide range of marketing topics. The report breaks down responses by high, average, and low performing marketing teams. The end of the report includes a breakdown of responses by country. Using these metrics, you can easily see where your marketing strategies line up with the tops in the world, and where you are utilizing less than optimal approaches.

Of particular interest is a finding that in 2016 customer satisfaction, which had previously been largely a customer service concern, is now “the number one success metric” for marketing teams. Thus it is not surprising that marketing professionals now cite increasing customer engagement (34%) as almost as high a priority as brand awareness (37%).

Other Interesting Stats:

  • 65% of high performing marketing teams cite customer journey strategy as an important part of overall business strategy, and 61% of those high performers are actively mapping customer journeys. (See Tip post Customer Journey Mapping Tools for Small Business for help getting started mapping your own customer journeys.)
  • 63% of respondents plan to increase spending on marketing tools and technology over the next two years.
  • The percentage of marketers who are realizing a return on their mobile investment jumped 147% from 2015 to 2016.
  • 79% of respondents report email as directly generating positive ROI in 2016, vs 54% in 2015.
  • 82% of respondents cite social media marketing as core to their business, while 39% report significant ROI from their social campaigns (compared to 9% in 2015). (See Tip post A Scientific Approach to More Effective Small Business Social Media Marketing for help kick-starting your social media campaigns.)


Internet Trends 2016
from Mary Meeker

More a collection of charts and graphs than a report, this presentation from Mary Meeker, a partner at Venture Capital firm Kleiner-Perkins, provides statistics for just about every aspect of the Internet economy. Key topic include, Global Internet Trends, Global Macro Trends, Advertising / Commerce + Brand Trends, Re-Imagining Communication – Video / Image / Messaging, Re-Imagining Human-Computer Interfaces – Voice / Transportation, China = Internet Leader on Many Metrics, Public / Private Company Data, and Data as a Platform / Data Privacy.

While you might not have time to fully absorb every chart in the 200+ slide presentation, sock it away and refer to it whenever you need a data point to support (or refute) any Internet related claim.

Interesting Stats:

  • There were approximately 3 billion global Internet users in 2015 (42% population penetration), a 9% increase from 2014. That represents a flat y/y growth rate of about 9% since 2012.
  • Internet Advertising Growth in the US was +20% in 2015 vs. and +16% Y/Y growth in 2012-2014. 66% of that growth is due to mobile. Google and Facebook combined account for 76% of that growth.
  • Online video ads are ineffective, with 81% of people reporting that they mute video ads, 62% report being annoyed with / put off by brand forcing pre-roll viewing, and 93% reporting considering using ad blocking software.
  • Worldwide almost twice as many photos were shared in 2015 as in 2014, and almost half of that occurred on a platform owned by Facebook.
  • Baby Boomers largely prefer being contacted by phone (64%), while Gen Xrs are equally split between phone (29%) and email/text (28%), while Gen Y is equally split between Chat and Social Media (24% each).


2016 Internet Security Threat Report
from Symantec

Security company Symantec utilizes data from its extensive user base and intelligence gathering, including the Symantec™ Global Intelligence Network, which is made up of more than 63.8 million attack sensors and records thousands of events per second, to compile this annual security report. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the threats faced and thwarted in 2015, along with predictions for 2016, and concrete actions you can take to ensure that your small business is operating securely (and is protected from the ever-growing barrage of threats) now and in the future.

According to the report, Symantec discovered more than 430 million new unique pieces of malware in 2015, a 36% increase from 2014. Top threats continue to be zero-day vulnerability exploits, data breaches, phishing, ransomware, and technical support scams.

Interesting Stats:

  • In 2015 there were 318 confirmed data breaches, involving 429 million personal identity records.
  • 54 zero-day vulnerabilities (vulnerabilities in software unknown and unpatched by the manufacturer) were discovered in 2015, a 125% increase from 2015. That means a new one was identified, on-average, once per week.
  • More than 75 percent of all legitimate websites have unpatched vulnerabilities, and there were over one million web attacks against people per day in 2015.
  • The overall email spam rate decreased from 60% in 2014 to 53% in 2015; while the email phishing rate fell from 1 in 965 in 2014 to 1 in 1,846 in 2015; but the rate of email containing malware rose from 1 in 244 in 2014 to 1 in 220 in 2015.
  • Ransomware attacks increased 35% in 2015, and are now prevalent for all OS (Linux, Mac, Windows) and device types (iOS, Android, Windows).
  • A majority of phishing attacks now attempt to trick recipients into opening or downloading a file containing malware (as opposed to in previous years where a primary goal was to obtain credentials from links to spoofed websites).
  • 43% of all phishing attacks in 2015 targeted small businesses.


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Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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