Opinion Poll: The Role of Micro Businesses in Our Economy

Association for Enterprise Opportunity, National Association for the Self-Employed, and Small Business Majority
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Small businesses are one of the most respected constituencies in the country, and certainly one of the most courted by policymakers in Washington. However, small businesses are also a group that legislators and the general public understand little about—the very smallest ones, especially. Those businesses are known as “micro businesses.”

A new opinion poll sheds light on the true nature of our nation’s micro businesses, revealing their important role in our economy and its recovery. Commissioned by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the National Association for the Self-Employed and Small Business Majority, the poll leaves no doubt that these businesses are a major driver of our economic recovery. The poll refutes the perception that micro businesses are merely hobbyists selling tchotchkes on the Internet. In reality, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed report their micro business as their sole source of income. Nearly six in 10 have been in business for 10 years or longer. These are clearly real businesses providing a real living for these small business owners and their families.

Key Findings

Sizable majorities of micro businesses provide a sole source of income for their owners and have been fully operational for more than 10 years: Despite misconceptions that micro businesses are generally side projects that help provide a second household income, 74% of their owners report micro businesses to be a sole source of income and 57% have been operating for 10 years or more.

Figure 1: Micro businesses contribute significantly to the American economy: 74% of these owners’ businesses provide their sole source of income

Which statement best describes your business?

Despite our lagging economic recovery, micro businesses have been growing and show strong signs they’ll continue doing so: A 54% majority have employed a contractor or 1099 employee in the past year and nearly a third have hired a full time employee in the past year. Half of them plan to hire within the next two years. 

Figure 2: Nearly a third of Micro businesses hired a new full-time worker in the past year

Please indicate how many full-time employees you have hired over the last year.

The impact micro businesses have on our economic growth is real: Micro businesses are not just hiring part-time, low paid workers: more than six in 10 spent over $50,000 in payroll this year and 54% spend more than $10,000 annually on non-payroll expenses such as equipment, computers, office supplies and more. In addition, a majority even reports an increase in sales or revenues over the last two years.

Figure 3: Micro businesses are growing: more than half report increased sales or revenues over the last two years

During the last two years, how would you describe your business' sales or revenues?

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