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Q3 2019 Survey Finds Dip in Small Business Owner Confidence Amid Rising Trade Policy Concern

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, August 12, 2019 — CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey (Nasdaq: SVMK), a leading global survey software company, today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

Each quarter, CNBC and SurveyMonkey poll over 2,000 small business owners aiming to measure the vitality of the American economy as well as the view from Main Street on jobs, taxes and other hot topics. In addition to measuring small business confidence nationwide, the large sample size gives CNBC the power to uncover trends by geographic region and among specific small business cohorts.

Key findings from the Q3 2019 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:

Trade tensions hit small business confidence:

  • The looming threat of a trade war pulled the Small Business Confidence Index down to 57, from 59 in Q2 – matching the previous all-time low for the index last seen in the last two quarters of 2017.
  • The number of small business owners who expect to increase headcount in the next 12 months decreased to 28% in Q3 (31% in Q2.)
  • Also, the number of small business owners who expect revenues to increase slipped to 58% in Q3 (60% in Q2.)

The trade war is cited as a rising concern amongst small business owners:

  • A record-high 32% of small business owners expect trade policy to have a negative impact on their businesses over the next 12 months, and at least a quarter of respondents say they’ve already felt the pain.
  • 25% of small business owners say they’ve been hurt by U.S. trade policy toward China in the past 12 months.
  • 17% say they’ve been hurt by U.S. trade policy toward Mexico in the past 12 months.
  • 15% of small business owners say they have already made changes to their business as a result of new tariffs (up from 8% a year ago.) Another 15% say they plan to make changes.
  • Republican small business owners are far less likely than Democrats or Independents to say trade policy has hurt their businesses, and less likely to say they’ve made changes as a result of tariffs.

For the upcoming 2020 Presidential election, more than half of small business owners say the most important issue will be casting a vote as a referendum on President Trump, one way or another:

  • 60% of Democrats say their top issue as a voter in 2020 will be “Voting President Trump out of office.”
  • 52% of Republicans say their top issue will be “Keeping President Trump in office.”
  • For Independents, 24% say the most important issue is the economy and jobs, while 19% say “Voting President Trump out of office.”

Additionally, in a separate, broader survey of more than 10,000 non-small business owners, CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that public sentiment regarding Amazon has shifted dramatically over the past two years:

  • 59% of Americans now say Amazon is bad for small businesses (up from 47% a year ago and 37% in 2017), putting it on par with Walmart (61% of Americans say Walmart is bad for small business.)
  • Separately, 20% of non-small business owners say they bought something from Amazon during the company’s “Prime Day,” which took place on July 16-17 this year. 54% of non-small business owners say they are Amazon Prime members.

“For several quarters, tax reform was the top source of volatility in small business confidence, but now that has been superseded by concerns about trade” says Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey. “Some on main street have already had to make changes to their business to stay competitive, and even more are wary of what is to come.”

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Monday, August 12ththroughout CNBC’s Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to:

SurveyMonkey created a unique Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI), which is a 100-point score based on responses to eight key questions. The index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. The third quarter of 2019′s SBCI has decreased from an overall value of 59 to 57.

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey’s online platform from July 29 – August 4, 2019 among a national sample of 2,299 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. Respondents for this survey were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Data for this quarter have been weighted to be representative of small business owners nationally, according to business characteristics from the Small Business Administration’s 2013 Statistics of U.S. Businesses and owner characteristics from the Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners.

*CNBC/SurveyMonkey additionally surveyed 10,024 individuals who do not own small businesses. Data for questions asked of the general population have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. The modeled error estimate for these results is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Dauble

Sandra Gharib

About CNBC:
With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and CNBC World, CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage and business information to 410 million homes worldwide, including more than 90 million households in the United States and Canada. CNBC also provides daily business updates to 400 million households across China. The network’s 15 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC’s global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC’s highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries. CNBC Digital delivers more than 55 million U.S. multi-platform unique visitors each month. provides real-time financial market news and information to CNBC’s investor audience. CNBC Make It is a digital destination focused on making you smarter about how you earn, save and spend your money by zeroing in on careers, leadership, entrepreneurship and personal finance. CNBC has a vast portfolio of digital products, offering CNBC content to a variety of platforms such as:; CNBC PRO, a premium service that provides in-depth access to Wall Street; a suite of CNBC mobile apps for iOS and Android devices; Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri voice interfaces; and streaming services including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Smart TVs. To learn more, visit Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBCUniversal Media Village Web site at For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit

About SurveyMonkey:
SurveyMonkey is a leading global survey software company on a mission to power the curious. The company’s People Powered Data platform empowers over 17 million active users to measure and understand feedback from employees, customers, website and app users, and the market. SurveyMonkey’s products, enterprise solutions and integrations enable 335,000+ organizations to solve daily challenges, from delivering better customer experiences to increasing employee retention. With SurveyMonkey, organizations around the world can transform feedback into business intelligence that drives growth and innovation.