New Bill.com Survey of U.S. Small Business Owners Reveals Optimistic Growth Outlook for 2021, Striking a Different Tone Than Projections at Start of Pandemic
As the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic shut down approaches, a new survey of US small and midsize businesses (SMBs) released today by Bill.com (NYSE: BILL) found that 75 percent of small business owners (SBOs) are moving to introduce new products and services in an effort to drive growth as they navigate year two of COVID. The survey found that while over 4 in 5 (82 percent) believe economic uncertainty has hindered their business growth -- nearly half (47 percent) believe their businesses will experience growth in the first quarter of 2021.
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According to Bill.com’s survey, conducted with 1,000 United States small business owners with under 100 employees, only 13 percent say government assistance or loans would be most critical for them to grow in the current quarter, citing instead an easing of lockdowns (38 percent) and increasing owner involvement in day-to-day decision-making (26 percent) as the most important driving factors for growth.
Instead of looking to outside factors for help at the start of the pandemic, 75 percent of SBOs answered that they took matters into their own hands. Actions taken included offering discounts and pricing changes (51 percent), new customer outreach (30 percent), new products or services (26 percent), customer and supplier negotiated payment terms (23 percent), and new business model pivots (19 percent).
The shift in focusing on revenue generation is in stark contrast to the early days of the pandemic when the focus was on cost-cutting and layoffs. In last year’s survey by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of more than 5,800 SMBs during the months of March and April 2020, 43 percent said they had closed their doors temporarily due to the pandemic and 39 percent said they had laid off employees in an effort to contain costs since January. In further contrast from the 2021 Bill.com survey findings where the focus was on revenue generation, the 2020 PNAS results showed that over 70 percent of respondents anticipated taking advantage of aid when asked about a program such as PPP, stating that they expected this funding to influence other business decisions - namely layoffs and the ability to stay in business altogether.