Small Business Focus

Small Business Credit Survey

American flag on lamppost

The Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) is a national collaboration of the 12 Reserve Banks of the Federal Reserve System that provides intelligence on small business financial needs, decisions and outcomes to policymakers, researchers and service providers. 

Established in 2010 by the New York Fed, the Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) is a survey of firms reporting information about business performance, financing needs and choices, and borrowing experiences. The SBCS captures the perspectives of businesses with fewer than 500 employees and results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses in the covered states.

In 2014, the Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, and Philadelphia Reserve Banks collaborated on the survey and received 2,000 responses from small businesses in 10 states.

In 2015, the Boston, Richmond and St. Louis Feds joined the effort and over 5,400 responses were received from small businesses in 26 states.

The 2016 survey was the first iteration conducted on a national scale with involvement from all 12 Federal Reserve Banks and input collected across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Over 15,990 responses were received, of which 10,303 were from employer firms.

The survey covers several key areas:

  • Firm performance and challenges: Changes in annual revenue, number of employees, outlook for the business, challenges facing the business.
  • Financing and credit: Sources of financing, credit products utilized, experiences applying for and obtaining credit.
  • Demographic information: Firm zip code, industry, size, number of employees, etc.

Results of the survey, conducted annually in the fall, help policymakers to better understand the changing dynamics in the small business credit environment

Employer Firms


The Employer Firm Report presents findings on the business conditions, financing needs and access to capital based on the responses of 10,303 employer firms from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Key Findings:

  • Although many employer small businesses were profitable and optimistic, a significant majority faced financial challenges, experienced funding gaps and relied on personal finances.
  • These issues were even more pronounced for the smallest firms, which were less likely to receive necessary funding and more likely to rely on personal finances to operate.
  • These findings highlight small businesses’ obstacles to growth and raise new questions about how to overcome them.

The results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses nationally. The survey is not a random sample; therefore, results should be analyzed with awareness of potential methodological biases.

Full report

Survey Questionnaire

Report Appendix

 

Startup Firms


2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Startup Firms

 

Minority-owned Firms


2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Minority-owned Firms
pdf report | appendix data

This report is the third in a series of reports based on the 2016 SBCS, offering unique insight into important, often underserved, segments of the small business population. Results show that minority-owned firms are discouraged (i.e., they did not apply for new funding because they did not think they would be approved) at much higher rates than nonminority-owned firms. In addition, while not controlling for all firm characteristics, the reported credit outcomes of survey respondents differ by race and credit risk.

 

Microbusinesses 


2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Microbusinesses: Nonemployer and Small Employer Firms 
pdf report | appendix

The fourth in a series of reports based on the 2016 Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS), this report details findings on the financing experiences and outcomes of the smallest firms in the US. Microbusinesses—a category of small firms comprising both nonemployer firms and firms with fewer than 5 employees—account for 9 in 10 firms in the US. The SBCS finds that microbusinesses face greater challenges than larger small firms and are less able to access financing.

 

Women-owned Firms


2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Women-owned Firms
pdf report

The fifth in a series of reports that examine the results of an annual survey of small business owners, this report focuses on small businesses that had majority female ownership—51% or more ownership by women—and employees in 2016 (hereafter “women-owned firms”). It compares these firms’ experiences with those of majority men-owned firms (“men-owned firms”). Women-owned firms were found to more likely stay small in terms of revenue and employment, struggle with profitability and be concentrated in less capital-intensive industries. In financing these small businesses, women-owned firms were more likely to face growth-related financial challenges, hold smaller amounts of debt and have unsecured debt. Though women- and men-owned firms applied for credit at similar rates, women-owned firms were less successful in obtaining financing. Among non-applicants, women-owned firms were more often discouraged from applying and less likely to have sufficient credit.

Employer Firms


The Employer Firm Report presents findings on the business conditions, financing needs and access to capital based on the responses of 3,459 employer firms from a 26 state coverage area.

Key Findings:

  • Half of applicants received all the credit sought.
  • Newer and smaller firms were more likely to report credit shortfalls.
  • Cash flow was the top business challenge for small firms.
  • Small banks are the lender of choice.
  • Online lenders are a common source of financing – but have lowest borrower satisfaction levels.

Results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses in the 26 states of coverage: New York, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, California, Colorado and Texas.

Full Report

Data

Survey Questionnaire

 

Self-Employed


2015 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Nonemployer Firms

Key Findings:

  • Large differences in credit demand exist between small and larger revenue firms.
  • Small businesses applying for credit are likely to be experienced in acquiring financing and operating at a profit.
  • Among applicants, there is a strong demand for small loans of $100,000 or less, with many firms borrowing to expand.
  • A tough credit market exists for the smallest firms and startups, with a majority unable to secure any credit.
  • Large banks are the dominant credit sources, but the use of online lenders is common across firm segments.

Results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses in the ten states of coverage: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Full Report

Data

Survey Questionnaire  

Contact Us

Community Development
(804) 697-8631

Take the Survey 2017

The Richmond Fed, in partnership with the other 11 Reserve Banks in the Federal Reserve System, is conducting a survey of small business owners. We want to hear from you about the current business climate, your financing needs and credit experiences. Responses are confidential and will be used to brief policymakers.