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What Can the Thumbtack Small Business Sentiment Survey Teach Us About the Economy?



One of the ways for small business owners to evaluate their strategies and make decisions about future business investments is to look at the overall state of the economy – whether it’s the local economy in your area, the national economy as a whole or the ups and downs of whichever niche market your business serves.

Thumbtack, an online platform for people to hire local small businesses for professional services (such as house painting, math tutoring, lawn care, pet care, wedding DJs, etc.), has done a small business sentiment survey (in partnership with Bloomberg) to gauge the strength of the economy as measured by the opinions of their nationwide network of small business owners. Thumbtack has a network of 150,000 small business owners that use its site to connect with customers, and the Thumbtack small business survey collected the opinions of more than 10,000 small business owners nationwide.

Small business surveys are a good way to see the big picture of the economy because small business owners are on the front lines – they see the trends shaping up, and can often anticipate changing customer demand before it shifts.

Here are a few of the key trends and insights identified by the Thumbtack Small Business Sentiment Survey:

Small business owners are feeling optimistic.

Overall sentiment of small business owners has increased 5 points (out of a 100-point scale) during the past year. Nearly 80 percent of the Thumbtack business owners surveyed said that they expected their revenues to increase during the next three months, and anticipated an improvement in financial conditions. More than 70 percent of business owners expected their profitability to increase in the next three months.

The South is leading the nation.

Some of the most optimistic small business owners were in the Southern states. Georgia, Louisiana and Arkansas ranked #1, 2 and 5 for highest small business sentiment, and Nevada and Idaho were 3rd and 4th. Some of the less optimistic small business owners were found in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and West Coast. If your company does business in multiple states, this could be a sign that some states are worth focusing on more than others for your new marketing campaign.

Employers are more optimistic than solo entrepreneurs.

According to the U.S. Economic Census, more than 90 percent of small businesses have five employees or fewer. The Thumbtack survey found that small business owners who have employees are slightly more optimistic about the economy than sole proprietors – there was a 4-point spread between these two groups. Perhaps employers are more optimistic because they have a larger base of business to draw upon if times get tough – or maybe they’re more optimistic because they know they have help from their employees?

Challenges include credit and hiring employees.

One of the areas of the survey where business owners were less optimistic was the topic of availability of credit. While 7.3 percent of small business owners said that during the past three months, they had sought credit and received the full amount requested, 6.6 percent said that they had sought credit but had been denied. Other small businesses are having trouble finding good employees to hire: 37.7 percent of business owners said it was “difficult” or “very difficult” to hire new employees during the past three months.

See the full results of the Thumbtack survey, including state-by-state comparisons and breakdowns by Industry, here: Thumbtack Small Business Sentiment Survey.

Kabbage Takeaway

According to the Thumbtack Small Business Sentiment Survey, the economy seems to be continuing to improve and small business owners are feeling optimistic on a number of levels, although there are still a few challenges related to credit and hiring.

What is your overall mood as a small business owner today? Are things looking good for your business, your state, and your market? What challenges are you seeing as the biggest problems facing your business? Do you agree or disagree with the overall trends identified by the Thumbtack survey? Leave a comment and let us know.


Kabbage Team

Kabbage is here not only to provide access to the small business funding you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at