Let's Get Small

Small businesses speak out

Murray Hill, NJ  August 14, 2001  Dun & Bradstreet today announced the results of its 20th Annual Small Business Survey. The survey measures attitudes, behaviors and trends in the U.S. small business market.

Among the more noteworthy results: 80 percent of U.S. small businesses have at least one computer on site used for business purposes, and in some sectors computer usage has almost reached saturation. Two-thirds of all small businesses and approximately 85 percent of small business computer owners report having Internet access, and more than half of those now have a Web site. Among those companies that currently access the Internet, 60 percent say they will increase their use of the Internet in 2001. However, only 27 percent of those with a Web site are currently selling on the Internet, and average less than three Web-based orders per month. And among all respondents, less than a quarter say they plan to invest in a Web site or Internet marketing in 2001.

"D&B's 20th Annual Small Business Survey reveals that while small business owners have been cautious about adopting new technology, many are realistic about the role it will play in their growth," said Joseph Langner, leader of D&B's Small Business Solutions initiative. "Of the nearly 13 million companies in D&B's U.S. database alone, about 11 million of them are small businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and every day, most of the world's B2C and B2B transactions are conducted by small-business professionals. As part of D&B's Blueprint for Growth strategy, we are committed to helping this vital sector of the economy leverage the tools of the new technology  most especially the Web  to help them better manage and grow their businesses."

A new set of psychographic identifiers was added to the D&B survey this year, designed to generate a deeper understanding of the small business community. One question asked respondents to personify their business as "Steady, a Leader, an Innovator or as a Survivor." Overall, two-fifths of small businesses described themselves as either "leaders" in their field or "innovators" (constantly seeking or investing in new opportunities). The largest group, about one-third, defined themselves as "survivors" facing strong competitive challenges. Another quarter labeled themselves "steady," content with current products, sales and profits.

While just 64 percent of respondents are optimistic about the outlook for the economy for the balance of 2001, 81 percent were optimistic about the outlook for their company for the same time period. Those optimistic about their company were more likely to have a "young" perspective: Most had been in business less than 10 years, and did not forecast retirement for more than 11 years.