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Q4 2019 Survey Finds Increase in Small Business Owner Confidence on Trade Optimism, Tech Optimism

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, December 2, 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 Q4 2019 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:

Small Business Confidence moves higher on trade optimism with a surprise spike in tech optimism:

  • The Small Business Confidence Index jumped to 59 in Q4 (from 57 in Q3).
  • The percent of small business owners who expect trade policy to have positive effects on their business rose to 24% in Q4, the highest it has been since Q2 2017.
  • The number of small business owners who expect technological change will have positive effects on their business jumped to 48% in Q4, up from 41% in Q3.

President Trump’s approval among small business owners hits an all-time high:

  • 60% of small business owners approve of the way President Donald Trump is handling his presidency, the highest number recorded since the Small Business Survey’s inception in Q2 2017.
  • Those who approve of President Trump are far more likely to say the issue of “jobs and the economy” matters the most to them. Meanwhile, those who do not approve of President Trump cite healthcare and the environment as the issues that matter the most to them.
  • Those who approve of President Trump are also more likely to say that impeachment will have a material impact on their business. 70% of those who disapprove of the President say an impeachment is not likely to impact their business.

Acquiring new customers, controlling costs and the employee skills gap are top three concerns for small business owners:

  • 20% of small business owners say they have open positions that they have not been able to fill up in at least three months, up slightly from 18% a year ago (Q4 2018).
  • To attract talent to their hard-to-fill positions, 60% say they’ve offered higher wages and 29% have offered benefits beyond what has typically been offered in the past.
  • In addition, the number of small business owners offering to help pay off student loans for new hires jumped from 12% to 19% year-over-year. And the number of small business owners considering candidates with criminal records for the first time jumped from 12% to 17% year-over-year.
  • When asked to rank the top three challenges facing their businesses in 2020, small business owners cited “acquiring new customers” (31%), “controlling costs” (24%), and “finding qualified employees” (18%).

“Small business owners are ending 2019 much the same way they ended 2018—satisfied with the current state of their business, anticipating revenue growth in the New Year, and working hard to attract new customers and hire qualified employees,” says Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey. “A slim majority have been on the lookout for a recession all year, but on the whole small business owners are charging into 2020 feeling rosy about what’s ahead.”

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Monday, December 2nd, throughout CNBC’s Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to: /curiosity/cnbc-small-business-q4-2019.

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 fourth quarter of 2019′s SBCI has increased to an overall value 59 from 57 in the third quarter.

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey’s online platform from November 12 – November 18, 2019 among a national sample of 2,081 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.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Dauble

Katie Miserany

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.