Q1 2021 Small Business Confidence Index drops five points to its lowest level since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began tracking confidence in 2017

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, February 10, 2021 — CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey (Nasdaq: SVMK), a leader in agile software solutions for customer experience, market research, and survey feedback, today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

The survey found that 63% of small business owners support President Joe Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID relief package. The legislative proposal picking up support from 46% of Republican small business owners, even as only 14% of the same group approve of how Biden is handling his job as President overall. 

Support for more relief comes as confidence among small business owners has plummeted to a new all-time low since the quarterly tracking survey began in 2017. The Small Business Confidence Index fell from 48 out of a possible 100 in the fourth quarter last year to 43 this quarter. The data demonstrated a steep decline in the number of small business owners saying overall business conditions are “good” (from 39% in the fourth quarter of 2020, to 29% this quarter), as well as sharp increases in the number of small business owners who expect potential changes in tax, trade, regulatory, and even immigration policy to have a negative impact on their businesses.  

"The pressure is rising for small business owners, with barely more than half saying they can make it another year under current conditions,” said Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer at SurveyMonkey. “That's a significantly less optimistic stance than we tallied last quarter, and fuels the widespread support for a big COVID relief package. The squeeze is particularly hard for minority small business owners: among Black small business owners, just 37% think they can make it 12 months without things changing." 

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 and SurveyMonkey the power to uncover trends by geographic region and among specific small business cohorts. 

Additional key findings from the Q1 2021 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include 

  • Small business plunges among Republicans, rises for Democrats
    • The Small Business Confidence Index for Republicans is 32.
      • That’s 25 points lower than it was in the third quarter of 2020, the last survey taken before the 2020 Presidential Election.
      • It’s also 9 points lower than the lowest confidence reading for Democrat small business owners during Donald Trump’s presidency.
      • Confidence among Democrats has risen to 63, up 17 points from the pre-election survey.
  • One third of small business owners say they’d have to lay off workers if Congress raised the federal minimum wage to $15/hr
    • 54% of small business owners oppose raising the minimum wage to $15/hr, as President Biden has proposed doing as part of the Covid relief package.
    • Owners of businesses with 5-9 employees (45%) and 10-49 employees (49%) are more likely than those with 50+ employees (36%) to say a higher minimum wage would force them to lay people off.
    • Republican small business owners (44%) are much more likely than Democrat small business owners (11%) to say a higher minimum wage would force them to lay people off.
  • Black-owned businesses are hit harder by the pandemic
    • 37% of Black small business owners say they can survive more than a year under current conditions, vs. 59% of White small business owners and 55% of Hispanic small business owners.
    • 25% of Black small business owners say their business has been temporarily shut down due to the pandemic and has not reopened yet, vs. 8% of White small business owners.
    • 9% of Black small business owners say their business was shut down, reopened, then shut down again, vs. 3% of White small business owners.
    • Despite all the above, Black small business owners are extremely optimistic. Their confidence index is 61, vs. 41 for White small business owners.

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Wednesday, February 10, throughout CNBC’s Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/cnbc-small-business-q1-2021/.


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 first quarter of 2021′s SBCI has decreased to an overall value of 43 from 48 in the fourth quarter last year.

This CNBC/SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted January 25-31, 2021 among a national sample of 2,157 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. This quarter, the survey also reached 9,697 individuals who do not own small businesses. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 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 for the results among small business owners and 1.5 percentage points for results among those who do not own small businesses. 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

Stephanie Hirlemann

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About SurveyMonkey:

SurveyMonkey is a leader in agile software solutions for customer experience, market research, and survey feedback. The company’s platform empowers over 17 million active users to analyze and act on feedback from employees, customers, website and app users, and market research respondents. SurveyMonkey’s products, enterprise solutions, and integrations enable more than 335,000 organizations to deliver better customer experiences, increase employee retention, and unlock growth and innovation. Ultimately, SurveyMonkey’s vision is to raise the bar for human experiences by amplifying individual voices.