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Q4 2020 Small Business Confidence Index at lowest level since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began tracking confidence in 2017

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, November 30, 2020 — CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey (Nasdaq: SVMK), a leader in agile software solutions for customer experiencemarket research, and survey feedback, today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

The survey found that small business confidence has dropped to an all-time low since the quarterly tracking survey began in 2017. The Small Business Confidence Index fell from 53 out of a possible 100 in the third quarter to 48 this quarter. That number is one point below where it was in the second quarter of this year, when lockdowns across the nation were increasing amid the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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.

The setback in the fourth quarter is attributable to a dramatic decline in confidence among Republican small business owners, whose outlooks soured in the immediate aftermath of Joe Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump in the presidential election. Among Republican respondents, the Small Business Confidence Index score fell from 57 in the third quarter to 42, as they fear the Biden presidency could lead to higher taxes and more regulation for their businesses. A higher proportion of small business owners are Republicans relative to the numbers among the general population.

Confidence among Democrats jumped from 46 to 58. 

“This shift in forward-looking sentiment after the election shows how deeply politics impacts public assessments of the economy,” said SurveyMonkey Chief Research Officer Jon Cohen. “We’ve seen evidence of this every quarter, with Republican small business owners consistently reporting a higher degree of confidence than Democrats throughout President Trump’s tenure. Nonetheless, the relative optimism small business owners continue to have in the current environment is remarkable given how long so many businesses have had to operate under the stresses of the global pandemic.”

Additional key findings from the Q4 2020 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:

  • Overall business conditions continue to recover, but the pace of recovery has slowed
    • 39% say conditions are “good,” up from 36% in the third quarter and 18% in the second quarter.
    • 18% of small business owners say conditions are “bad,” down from 23% in Q3 and 40% in Q2. 
  • Most Small Business owners expect Joe Biden’s presidency to be “bad” for small businesses: 
    • 55% of small business owners expect Biden to be “bad” for small businesses, versus 34% who expect him to be “good” for small businesses:
    • 89% of Republican small business owners say Biden will be “bad” for small businesses while 86% of Democrats say he will be “good” for small businesses.
    • 75% of Republicans say tax policy will have a negative impact on their businesses over the next 12 months, vs. 15% of Democrats. 
    • 72% of Republicans expect government regulation to have a negative impact on their businesses, vs. 11% of Democrats. 
  • Small business owners overwhelmingly support a new round of federal economic stimulus
    • 83% support new stimulus, while 15% oppose it. 
    • 50% of small business owners say the next stimulus bill should include direct payments to individuals.
    • 42% support rent and mortgage relief.
    • 41% support an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Monday, November 30th, throughout 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 fourth quarter of 2020′s SBCI has decreased to an overall value of 48 from 53 in the third quarter.

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey’s online platform from November 10-17, 2020 among a national sample of 2,253 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. This quarter, the survey reached 9,795 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.