One year into the pandemic: How small businesses have weathered the storm and where their businesses stand today

Small Business Majority
Thursday, April 8, 2021

As we approached the one-year mark of the initial public health shutdowns in the U.S. that sent shockwaves through our economy, Small Business Majority reviewed a year’s worth of surveys conducted of our network of 85,000 small businesses, as well as other national polling we commissioned and additional research and qualitative feedback from our network, in order to better understand the state of small businesses.

Over the course of the pandemic, we conducted six surveys of our national network of small business owners. Each survey yielded between 500 and 1,000 responses from businesses around the country. About two-thirds of our survey respondents are women and half are entrepreneurs of color. Roughly 30% are self-employed firms, with another half employing fewer than 10 people. Following national trends, businesses owned by people of color and women in our network tend to employ fewer people than white, male-owned businesses. Additionally, Small Business Majority’s network is more diverse than the national average, providing important insights into how the smallest businesses and those owned by women and people of color have fared over the past year and their success with accessing federal relief.

Our analysis finds that while some businesses have been able to adapt, pivot and survive the crisis, many small businesses have been left behind by policies intended to help, and additional aid is needed.

Key findings:

  • Businesses owned by people of color continue to struggle, with key indicators of their stability stemming from their obtainment of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and their perceived ability to remain open throughout the year.
  • Businesses in our network have been more successful obtaining federal relief compared to small businesses nationwide, but smaller businesses have been largely left behind.
  • Support for direct grant assistance remains high a year into the pandemic, even after nearly $1 trillion in federal small business relief has already been allocated.
  • Businesses struggling with commercial rent and mortgage obligations points to a looming crisis.