The new year is a fresh opportunity to make big plans for your business: to think about what’s important, what you need to focus on, and how you’ll position yourself for greater growth in the year ahead.

While you may already have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t for you, it can be eye-opening to see how other small businesses across the nation are doing. How does yours compare, and how can you learn from the cumulative trends and lessons out there? For that, you’ll need to look at the bigger picture. That’s why we’ve compiled a summary of the 10 best 2020 small business research reports.

2020 small business research reports

These reports present a round-up of insights from the past year and reveal how small businesses are tackling everything from marketing to internet security. Here’s what you need to know about each, plus interesting highlights.

The State of Small Business in America

Report by Babson College

One of the nation’s premier business schools, Babson College, compiles insights from 1,800 small business owners across the nation. Their State of Small Business report focuses on core areas like capital, laws and regulations, workforce, and technology. It reveals that:

  • Small business owners spend about 200 hours annually trying to navigate and understand federal and sub-federal laws.
  • Over 40% of small business owners say they aren’t well-prepared for cyber threats, and nearly 25% have been targeted by a cyber attack in the past.
  • Small businesses across the United States are growth-oriented: 35% are researching and developing new products and services; 46% are in the process of launching them; and 62% are refining the quality of existing offerings.

2019 Small Business Profile

Report by the U.S. Small Business Administration

This concise summary from the U.S. Small Business Administration provides interesting statistics about small businesses across the nation, from the number of minority-owned small businesses (8.7 million) to net new jobs created (1.8 million in 2016). For example:

  • There are 30.7 million small businesses in the United States, and they comprise 99.9% of all businesses across the nation.
  • In 2017, financial institutions provided them with 6.1 million loans under $100,000.
  • Self-employed individuals with an incorporated business earned a median income of $51,419 in 2017. Those with an unincorporated business earned a median income of $25,240.

Report by Salesforce

SalesForce surveyed over 2,000 small business owners about the obstacles they face, the decisions they make, and the opportunities they see up ahead. A few interesting insights: 

  • 78% of small and medium business leaders feel optimistic about the future.
  • 60% of small and medium business owners say they’re seeking to grow their business.
  • 43% say that social media is a major tactic for attracting new customers.
  • 23% cite sales as a crucial role in their success.

Report by Guidant Financial

Guidant Financial looked at the small business trends that dominated 2019, from franchise-specific trends to demographic trends pertaining to African Americans, aspiring entrepreneurs, Boomers, Millennials, and women in business. Partnering with LendingClub, they surveyed over 2,700 current and aspiring business owners and learned that:

  • 78% of business owners are generating a profit.
  • 53% of business owners rank their happiness as a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10.
  • Their top business challenges include: lack of capital or cash flow (33%), marketing and advertising (15%), time management (13%), recruitment and retention (13%), and administrative work (13%).

Report by Google

If you’re a small business owner using digital marketing to reach new customers, you may be interested in Google’s Small Business Search Trends, which reveals that:

  • The past decade has seen a 350x surge in “local” and “near me” searches.
  • Searches for “local shops” hit an all-time high last year.
  • The top states searching for local businesses were West Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

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2019 Internet Security Threat Report

Report by Symantec

If you’re one of the 40% of small business owners who don’t feel prepared for cyberthreats, you would be wise to read Symantec’s internet security report. These are some of their eye-opening observations:

  • Each month, an average of 4,800 e-commerce websites are compromised by code designed to steal customers’ credit card payment information.
  • More and more firms are being held hostage by ransomware: enterprises accounted for 81% of all ransomware infections, which is a 12% increase from the prior year.
  • Employees at small organizations are more likely to be targeted by email malware and phishing scams. In fact, 48% of malicious email attachments take the form of office files.

Report by Mary Meeker

Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report has been tracking technology trends since 1995. Peruse the 333-page slide deck and you’ll discover insightful nuggets of information like these: 

  • The world’s top internet users are in China, India, and the United States.
  • More adults in the United States are spending time on digital media than ever before. In 2018, U.S. adults spent a total of 6.3 hours per day on their desktop, laptop, mobile, or other device. That’s up from 2.7 hours just a decade ago!
  • Across the globe, each day, 30% of internet users log on to Facebook, 27% use YouTube, and 25% check WhatsApp.

2019 Small Business Marketing Survey Report

Report by Marc Apple

Marc Apple and his marketing agency survey 100 small business owners each year to understand their approach to marketing. Here are some of the things they uncovered in 2019:

  • Top marketing tactics small business owners used in the past year included social media (54%), email marketing (31%), blogging (16%), SEO (12%), paid digital advertising (11%), and video marketing (9%).
  • In 2019, they planned to continue focusing mostly on social media (52%), email marketing (33%), and video marketing (30%).
  • 53% of small business owners said that their marketing was effective, while 14% said it was not and 33% admitted they weren’t sure.

Report by MailChimp

MailChimp’s 2019 marketing trends report is even more comprehensive, with information gleaned from 12 million active small business users across the nation. It delves into the changing marketing landscape, most-used marketing channels, and how businesses can turn to automation to get more done. MailChimp augments each of their findings with solid marketing advice to help you succeed in 2020. Some interesting insights from the report:

  • 31% of small business owners say that marketing is their #1 challenge.
  • 80% of small businesses aren’t taking full advantage of digital tools like data analytics and more sophisticated tech. 
  • 90% of small business owners say they hear about new marketing tools through word of mouth.

The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2019

Report by HubSpot

HubSpot compiles a comprehensive list of marketing statistics from a variety of sources across the internet, presenting a treasure trove of data on everything from SEO to blogging, Instagram to podcasting. The entire list is well worth reviewing from top to bottom, but some of our favorite insights are these: 

  • By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches.
  • Businesses that prioritize blogging tend to see a 13x increase in their ROI.
  • Content marketing gets 3x more leads than paid search advertising.

We hope that these research reports, infographics, and statistics help guide you as you plan for a strong 2020. We at PaySimple wish you and your business all the best this year.

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