More than 700 businesses shared their operational experiences from the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020 through early January 2021 in a market assessment survey conducted by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. The survey was conducted from December 2020 through January 2021.
The results provide a current perspective of how small businesses managed during the pandemic, their actions taken in quarterly snapshots starting in March of 2020, and a forward-looking assessment of their business strategies.
“While the challenges over the past year have been widely documented, we wanted to quantify the impact on, and the 2021 outlook of, Connecticut’s small businesses,” said Joe Ercolano, State Director, CTSBDC.
Notable findings include:
- Eight out of ten respondents experienced a decline in revenue over 2019, with 75% posting a decline of 25% or more.
- While close to one out of two respondents reduced employee hours at the start of the pandemic from March-May 2020, one out of three projected a need to do the same from Jan-March 2021.
- During the survey period at the end of 2020, after 2 rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) had been issued, securing emergency financing was cited most frequently as a key concern for small businesses (35%). Additionally, more than one-third indicated their business would close without additional emergency funding.
- 54% of respondents received a PPP loan. Minority-owned firms reported receiving the PPP at a lower rate than non-minority-owned businesses, 44% and 65% respectively.
- Close to four out of ten respondents did not apply for a PPP loan, with a third reporting the reason as unwilling or unable to take on more debt.
- Looking out twelve months, 60% were considering changes to their business, with one in five considering either expanding or closing their business. Overall, almost half of the respondents indicated they were confident their business would return to profitability in twelve months, with 55% minority-owned respondents citing confidence.
- With the significant impact on revenues, not surprisingly, one-half of respondents reported plans to change their marketing strategies in the coming year. One out of three businesses expressed interest in assistance with building or starting online sales, with particular focus on search engine optimization, social media and website development.
“The resiliency of many of these businesses is remarkable,” offered Ercolano. “This survey shows businesses have assessed their strategies and have started identifying ways to move forward. With this data, CTSBDC, and technical assistance providers throughout the state, will be able to help businesses more effectively navigate this new landscape.”