EXCLUSIVE: The latest Verizon Business survey found a growing number of small business owners are worried about their financial security with inflation cited as their biggest headache.
And a majority say business is not better than it was a year ago.
The annual State of Small Business poll conducted by Morning Consult and released Thursday shows rising prices remain decision-makers’ prime concern, with more than 82% of respondents expressing worries over inflation.
Verizon’s survey also found that, of owners polled last month, 72% said they are concerned about their own financial security, up from 66% last year and 67% in August 2020.
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Supply chain woes remain a pain point too, particularly for certain industries, Verizon found.
Keeping up inventory levels and fulfillment schedules was cited as a concern of 72% of respondents from the food and beverage industry, 69% of bars and restaurants and 62% of retailers.
Concerns over cybersecurity climbed markedly over the past year among small businesses as well, with 55% citing viruses and cyber risk as a worry compared to 31% in 2021.
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That might explain why respondents said technology investments were the last to be cut, with only 29% saying such expenses were or could be on the chopping block compared to lesser priorities such as employee events (59%) or operational investments (39%).
In this tight labor market, some 80% of small businesses said they have not laid off employees over the past year, and 87% said they have not had to cut their employees’ wages.
But 61% of business owners said they had invested in technologies over the past two years aimed at better serving customers.
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The data also pointed to disappointment in some small business owners’ expectations.
Although 68% of decision-makers forecast that their shops would be doing better this year than last, less than half (46% ) reported that business has improved.
While optimism for the future is lower in 2022 than it was in 2021, a majority (56%) of small businesses said they believe business will be better a year from now.