6 small business statistics that may surprise you

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By Brent Barnhart

Small businesses love statistics.

And why not? They help us understand where we’re going and where we’ve been. After all, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

By better understanding the small business landscape by the numbers, we’re more likely to make informed decisions and keep ourselves from heading our businesses in the wrong direction. As business owners, continuing education is crucial in keeping our companies current.

The following six statistics have a lot to teach us about the state of small business, the economy and the future of Internet marketing. Whether or not they come to surprise you, consider how these stats impact your company.

99.7% of America’s businesses are ‘small’ businesses

Although we may see small business as a tight-knight community, the fact remains that SMBs make up 99.7 per cent of America’s businesses, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Of course, the SBA defines a “small business” as any company that employs fewer than 500 workers. To some, that definition may be a bit excessive. But even if we considered as small businesses only those companies that employ fewer than 50 workers, we’d still be talking about most of the country’s businesses. Regardless of the definition debate, there’s little doubt about the economic impact of America’s SMBs and their role in creating jobs.

27% of businesses lost employees within the past year

We often speak of the slow recovery of the U.S. economy post-Great Recession. The recovery is happening too slowly for many businesses, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently reported that over a quarter of companies lost employees within the past year. With the unemployment rate sitting at 7.6 per cent, only a two-percentage-point drop from three years prior, there’s no doubt that small businesses continue to struggle when it comes to maintaining and hiring employees. The numbers prove that there’s good reason for businesses to be cautious when it comes to bringing on new talent. This trend may unfortunately continue until SMBs finally find a bit of economic breathing room.

90% of customers are influenced by online ratings and reviews

The importance of ratings and reviews for small businesses is no joke. As a reported 90 per cent of customers are influenced by online ratings and reviews, consider the place of such reviews in your business strategy. Is your online reputation squeaky clean? Have you not established much of a presence? It’s tempting to dismiss bad reviews or negative comments as spam or people simply blowing off steam; however, these reviews don’t simply go away. Today’s users are incredibly impressionable; a decisively negative review of one business may cause a customer to shift to another. Building a positive repertoire with your customer base and encouraging them to leave positive feedback for your business will result in positive returns.

Nearly 40% of our time online is spent on mobile devices

This statistic may come as a surprise to some, although perhaps not when we consider how glued we are to our mobile devices these days. The numbers don’t lie. Not only are businesses browsing the web and engaging in communication through social media on their mobile devices, they’re purchasing items and looking through those previously noted ratings and reviews. For this reason, your business needs to make sure it has a mobile presence and can be easily accessed by such users. A mobile-friendly site is just the beginning; ensuring that you have a presence on social networks is perhaps even more important as users are liking, tweeting and pinning more than ever.

39% of SMBs see an ROI from social media

With so many users on the aforementioned social channels, however, it may come as a shock that relatively few businesses are seeing an ROI from social media. We’re often told how important it is to reach out and engage through social media and how crucial that engagement is to our Internet marketing success. If that’s the case, why isn’t the ROI there? This may come as the result of poor strategy, with businesses sinking time, money and resources that aren’t being spent optimally.

Consider also that the ROI from social media isn’t always financial. Exposing your business to new customers and reaching out to establish new relationships may very well be more important to some businesses than simply getting ad clicks. It often comes down to your goals; you may get more mileage out of trying to put your name out there than by grasping for cash.

With attacks up 18% last year, SMBs are more prone to security breaches in 2013

According to a recent cyber-security report from Symantec, hackers are targeting small businesses. Surprised? As cyber attacks were up 18 per cent in 2012, business owners must continue to seek protection from fraud and keep their companies safe. How can your business protect itself?

  • Be wary of scams. If it looks like spam or seems suspicious, it’s probably worth avoiding.
  • Spam filters don’t catch everything. Don’t assume that something’s safe just because it ends up in your inbox.
  • Change your passwords often, keep them complicated and don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Keep the most pertinent information concerning you and your business to yourself if possible.

The bottom line

There’s plenty going on in the world of small business and it’s crucial for us to keep up with the numbers. What small business statistics take you by surprise?

Brent Barnhart is a staff writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. Grow your business online with ChamberofCommerce.com, the most trusted online resource for all your business needs.

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