Most Businesses Weathering COVID-19 Storm, Survey Finds

Despite the challenging hand small business owners and managers have been dealt by the pandemic, a majority said they were beginning to feel positive about their prospects at the year’s halfway mark.

Through a series of surveys conducted since 2012, financial management firm Principal Financial Group has been tracking the progress and perceptions of businesses with two to 10,000 employees. The latest survey, fielded in early to mid June, saw the vast majority of business leaders reporting their enterprises were stable or better, despite the economic fallout from the health crisis.

Businesses holding steady

When asked about the current state of their financials…

  • 49% of respondents said their business was stable
  • 41% said their business was growing

Only 8% said their business was declining, and 2% said they were struggling to stay afloat.

Looking just at small businesses (those with two to 499 employees)…

  • 53% of respondents said their business was stable
  • 34% said it was growing
  • 10% said it was declining
  • 3% were struggling to stay afloat

The overwhelming majority of small business leaders said they expected their company to survive the pandemic, with 89% saying they would not consider bankruptcy in the face of the pandemic. However, larger businesses (with 500 to 10,000 employees) were slightly less optimistic, with 79% of owners in this category ruling out filing for bankruptcy.

Earlier in the pandemic, small business owners were much more pessimistic. One survey conducted in April found that most small businesses did not expect to survive the crisis.

Adapting to tough times

As for the actions small businesses had taken to survive the current situation, a plurality of respondents (32%) said they had stopped hiring, while…

  • 29% had looked for other ways to cut spending
  • 26% had applied for the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program
  • 21% had laid off staff
  • 19% had temporarily closed the business

However, one area that small business leaders were reluctant to cut back on was employees benefits. Less than 10% of small business respondents said they had considered cutting back on the employer-paid portion of employee benefits, and less than 7% said they had looked at reducing which benefits employees were offered. In fact, a separate survey from earlier this year showed some employers had added benefits during the pandemic.

Eying an end to the crisis

So when do business leaders foresee their companies returning to more normal times? Most (66%) said they expected recovery to occur at some point in the next 12 months. More specifically…

  • 18% expected recovery in the next three months
  • 16% said within in the next six months
  • 6% said it would take about nine months for them to recover
  • 15% expected it to take a year

Notably, 11% said their business had nearly fully recovered in June when the survey was taken.

In addition, roughly equal percentages dachshund puppies for sale near me of respondents were “cautious” (40%) and “optimistic” (39%) about the economic outlook for the next 12 months, the survey found. Only 14% said they were “pessimistic” about what’s to come in the next year, while 7% described their view as “neutral.”

Methodology: The survey was conducted as part of the Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Business Owners, which surveys business leaders and decision makers aged 21 and over at companies with two to 10,000 employees. The most recent survey, conducted by market research firm Dynata, took place between June 5 and June 11, 2020, and was given to 500 business decision makers.

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