CNBC and SurveyMonkey Release Latest Small Business Survey Results

Q4 2018 Survey Finds Small Business Confidence Slips

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, December 10, 2018 – CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey, a leading global survey software company, today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

Each quarter, CNBC and SurveyMonkey poll over 2,000 small business owners aiming to measure the vitality of the American economy as well as the view from Main Street on jobs, taxes and other hot topics. In addition to measuring small business confidence nationwide, the large sample size gives CNBC the power to uncover trends by geographic region and among specific small business cohorts.

Key findings from the Q4 2018 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:

  • After five straight quarters of gains, those who say conditions for business right now are 'good' dipped from 58% to 55%. That question is just one component of our small business confidence index score, which also decreased from 62 to 59 this quarter.
  • This dip is reflected across nearly all demographic groups, with the exceptions of Democrats who held steady, and those who disapprove of President Trump and became slightly less pessimistic this month. 58% of small business owners expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, down from 62% in Q3 and 60% in Q2. On a parallel path, 29% of small business owners plan to increase headcount over the next 12 months, down marginally from 33% in Q3 and 31% in Q2.
  • 18% of respondents have had open positions for at least 3 months that they have been unable to fill. Of those with open positions, 56% have offered higher wages, 31% have offered to pay for training/additional education and more than 10% have offered to help pay candidates' student loans, relaxed drug policies or considered candidates with criminal records for the first time in order to attract qualified workers.
  • Overall, views on trade moderated slightly. 55% say changes in trade policy will have "no impact" on their businesses in the next year, up from 47% in Q3. Subsequently, the number expecting either a positive or negative impact fell. The 16% who say trade policy will positively affect their businesses over the next year is a new low. However, small businesses that do business in China are nearly twice as likely as those who don’t to say trade will have a negative impact.
  • 19% of business owners believe the most important priority for the next Congress is to cut spending/reduce the deficit, followed closely by immigration (18%), healthcare (17%), and increased oversight of the Trump administration (15%).

“The steady, high confidence among small business owners that we tracked throughout 2018 is weakening to close the year,” said Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey. “Our data show diminished expectations around regulation, tax policy, and trade as leading the downturn in what had been sky-high confidence heading into 2019.”

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Monday, December 10th throughout CNBC's Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to:

SurveyMonkey created a unique Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI), which is a 100 point score based on responses to eight key questions. The index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. Last quarter, the SBCI was the highest it had been since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began polling businesses six quarters ago, tied with Q1 2017. The fourth quarter of 2018's SBCI has fallen from an overall value of 62 to 59, indicating that small business owners are more optimistic than pessimistic about the direction their business will go in the next 12 months.

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey's online platform from November 19 – November 29, 2018 among a national sample of 2,146 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. Respondents for this survey were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Data for this quarter have been weighted to be representative of small business owners nationally, according to business characteristics from the Small Business Administration's 2013 Statistics of U.S. Businesses and owner characteristics from the Census Bureau's 2012 Survey of Business Owners.

*CNBC/Survey Monkey additionally surveyed 9,789 individuals who do not own small businesses. Data for questions asked of the general population have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

Source: SurveyMonkey Inc.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Dauble

Irina Efremova

About CNBC:

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About SurveyMonkey:

Founded in 1999, SurveyMonkey changed the way people gather feedback by making it easy for anyone to create their own online surveys. Today, SurveyMonkey’s mission is to power curious individuals and organizations to measure, benchmark and act on the opinions that drive success. Our People Powered Data platform enables conversations at scale to deliver impactful customer, employee and market insights. The company’s 750+ employees are dedicated to fueling the curiosity of over 16 million active users globally.