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Polling

CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index Q4 2019

CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index Q4 2019

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index has lots of bright spots as we head into 2020. Over half of small business owners (53%) in the fourth quarter survey say current conditions are “good,” and even more (58%) say they expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months. The number of owners saying they expect to increase their headcount is up from Q3 (from 28% to 32%), as is the number of owners expecting positive effects due to government regulations (from 21% to 24%) and tax policy (from 25% to 29%), along with the aforementioned trade policy and technological change.

After nine quarters of no real movement, the number of small business owners who expect positive effects on their business due to technological change jumped from 41% to 48% this quarter. That surprise, along with a spike in the percent of owners expecting positive effects from trade policy, helped push the index score back up to 59 from 57.

While concerns about trade policy suppressed the index score last quarter, those have receded. This quarter, 24% of small business owners actually expect positive effects on their business due to changes in trade policy in the coming 12 months—the highest that number has been since the second quarter of 2017, when it was 27%. The number expecting a negative effect from trade policy dropped back down from 32% to 26%, exactly where it had been in Q2 of this year.

Other key findings in this quarter's survey include:

  • Acquiring new customers is the top challenge facing small businesses in 2020, selected by 31% of small business owners
  • 20% of small business owners say they have positions that have been open for at least three months that they have been unable to fill
  • A significant minority of small business owners (39%) say the impeachment of President Trump will have a material impact on their business, and about half that number (20%) say Brexit will have a material impact on their business
  • Just over half (53%) of small business owners say a recession is likely to occur in the next 12 months, a percentage that hasn't budged over the course of this year

Read more about our polling methodology here
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below:

Question text:
Which one of the following issues matters MOST to you right now?
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?In addition to yourself, how many employees work at your small business?Is your business a:Overall, would you describe current conditions for your business as good, middling or bad? In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s revenue to increase, stay the same, or decrease? 
In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s staff of full-time employees to increase, stay the same, or decrease?In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in government regulations to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? 
In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in trade policy to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in technological innovation to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in immigration policy to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business?
In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s staff of full-time employees to increase, stay the same, or decrease? 
As you may know, periods of economic growth are followed by periods of recession. Do you think a recession over the next year is…
What will be the biggest challenge facing your business in 2020? Acquiring new customers / Controlling costs / Finding qualified employees to fill open positions / Retaining/renewing existing customers/ Retaining existing employees
Compared to 2019, do you plan to invest more in capital projects for your business in 2020, less, or about the same?
Do you have any positions that have been open for at least 3 months that you have been unable to fill?
Which of the following have you done to try to attract qualified workers to those open positions? (Select all that apply.) Offered higher wages / Offered benefits beyond what has typically been available to other employees / Offered to pay for training or additional education to help candidates meet job requirements / Offered to help candidates pay off student loans / Considered candidates with criminal records for the first time / Relaxed employee drug policy
How likely do you think it is that the impeachment of President Trump will have a material impact on your business?
How likely do you think it is that Brexit will have a material impact on your business?
*businesses