Sometimes entrepreneurs are working so quickly and are so focused that it can feel like we're working in a vacuum. Getting to know what's going on with other small businesses can be a crucial way to gauge what's happening in the industry and where we stand.
To make that a little bit easier, we've compiled some statistics about small businesses that can help you take the temperature of the field and gain an understanding of today's climate. We sifted through reams of government data to drill down to the information most relevant to entrepreneurs.
- The economy is unlikely to impact a business' survival. That's the word from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which looked at survival paths of small businesses over a 15-year period. "Businesses started in expanding economies in 1995 and 2005," the SBA writes. "Those started just before the downturn in 2000 and those started just after the downturn had almost identical survival paths," the agency noted. Of course, if a business can endure a downturn, it may still feel "crippling effects down the road," the SBA added.
- Annual business openings have exceeded closings for eight years straight. The number of businesses with employees that opened in 2018 passed the one million mark for the first time in history, the SBA said last summer. Growth was led by businesses in Washington, South Carolina and Idaho.
- About 81 percent of US small businesses have no employees. The remaining 19 percent of the 30.7 million small businesses in the country have paid employees on staff, the SBA notes.
- About half of all businesses survive for five years or longer, and about 33 percent survive for at least a decade, the SBA says. "Although timely data is not available on firm survival rates, about two out of three establishment exits are firm closures," the agency said.
- About eight million of the 30.7 million US-based small businesses are minority-owned. Veterans own 2.5 million of the businesses, according to the SBA.
- Approximately one in every five small businesses is family-owned. The fields with the highest share of family-owned businesses are real estate/leasing, mining/quarrying, oil/gas extraction, and accommodation/food services, the SBA says.
- About one-third of startups launch with less than $10,000 in capital. Another 29 percent launch with $10,000 to $49,999 in startup funding, and 26 percent have $50,000 to $249,999. It's the rare 12 percent of firms that start with $250,000 or more, the SBA says.
Although there are certainly businesses that have wildly different outcomes than these statistics reflect, they can be helpful in guiding you as your business launches and scales.