WASHINGTON, D.C.—An optimistic outlook on the local economy and continued positive perceptions of small business health has pushed the Q4 MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index (Index), released today, up for the second consecutive quarter to 63.2 from 62.3 in Q3. This means 63.2 percent of small business owners have a positive outlook about their company and their small business environment. Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of small business owners describe the financial health of their company as “good” this quarter, about the same as last quarter.
Disaster Preparedness and Business Disruptions
Despite the ever-present threat to business growth and continuity from potential natural, technological, and other man-made calamities, the majority of small businesses do not have official plans to deal with the disruptions. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 40 percent of small businesses never recover and do not reopen after a natural disaster.
In telephone interviews with 1,000 small business owners and operators, a majority (65 percent) of small business owners said they do not have any plans in place to cope with a natural disaster or inclement weather and approximately seven out of 10 businesses are not prepared to deal with a prolonged shortage of workers. Half (50 percent) have plans to prevent theft and deter intruders and 47 percent have a plan to combat cybercrime. However, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) have no plan in place to deal with any of these events.
“Our goal in creating the quarterly Small Business Index was to elevate the voice of small businesses, especially as it relates to the challenges they are facing,” said James W. Reid, executive vice president for Regional & Small Business Solutions at MetLife. “The number of recent disasters across the United States underscores the importance of planning ahead. Small business owners told us they are not prepared for natural or man-made disasters, and we want to make sure they will have the help they need when the time comes.”
The dozens of storms and natural disasters throughout 2017 alone have caused billions of dollars in damage, and the impacts can be devastating to small businesses and their local economies. According to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), 2017 ties the record year of 2011 for the most billion-dollar disasters for the year to date – as of early October 2017, there have been 15 natural disaster events with losses exceeding one billion dollar each across the United States.
“Natural disasters can have a ripple effect across a community and local economy,” said Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses account for nearly two thirds of new jobs and half of our country’s economic output. Now more than ever we need to show the power and resilience of these small businesses – to help them rebuild and ensure they continue to be economic engines in their communities.”
The Voice of the Small Business Owner – Catastrophic Events
This research effort includes gathering personal stories that illuminate the unique challenges facing today’s small businesses. In Q4, small business owners shared important insights into the business disruptions they have faced and the importance of disaster preparedness.
In Florida alone, FEMA indicates that 84 percent of small businesses lost sales due to Hurricane Irma with 24 percent temporarily being unable to open their primary business location.
A small business owner in Florida said:
“You can never be too prepared...Even if you are okay, your customers might not be. And the longer it takes the community to get back on their feet the more the aftermath can wreak financial havoc on your business.”
Small business owners in Texas said:
“Three hours. That’s all it took for the worst of the hurricane to change our world…I was one of the lucky ones. Fortunately I was insured. Many businesses were battered much harder than ours, and were not. In three hours those business owners saw their livelihoods disappear. Many of them aren’t coming back. They can’t.”
"We’re in the process of rebuilding one of our locations that flooded after the storm, and we’ve learned a lot...You can never be too prepared for a disaster and its aftermath. If you aren’t it can really take a toll on you financially.”
Resources for Business OwnersU.S. Chamber Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center
202-463-3133 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Disaster response resources can be found online here.
The Q4 Small Business Index also looked at small business owners’ digital usage and found that a quarter of small businesses are not active on the internet, with one-fifth (19 percent) reporting they do not have an online presence of any kind.
About the Small Business Index
The Index is part of a multiyear collaboration by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber to elevate the voice of America’s small business owners and highlight the important role they play in the nation’s economy. The initiative will produce the quarterly MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index; a nationwide event series, and the annual Dream Big Small Business Awards program, which celebrates the achievements of small businesses and honors their contributions to America’s economic growth.
Please visit www.SBIndex.us for the full results and methodology.