- Thumbtack survey shows small businesses specializing in local services are generally satisfied with the economic potential of their local community
- Connecticut earns a C- ranking among its respondents
- Separate survey finds customers are strengthening their support for local businesses
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
Small business owners are generally optimistic about the economic potential in their community and customers have shown a greater willingness to support local entrepreneurs, according to recent surveys by the home services resource Thumbtack.
Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey, now in its 10th year, found that 87 percent of respondents believe there is an economic opportunity in their community for their business to thrive. This was up 19 points from the 2019 survey, reflecting an increase in positive outlook despite the disruption wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Forty-one percent said they earned more in the first half of 2021 than they did in the same period in 2020.
Rural respondents were less likely to see economic potential in their community, with one in five saying they did not think conditions would allow their company to thrive. Twenty-three percent of respondents who had a pessimistic view of their location’s economic potential said they were willing to move to be closer to customers.
The cost of operating was the largest challenge small business owners faced. Forty-five percent said they wanted policymakers to reduce their tax burden, while one in three wanted improved access to health care and insurance.
Twenty-three percent said they were experiencing difficulties in hiring new workers in the past year, while 31 percent said they were not receiving applications from qualified individuals. Eighteen percent said they thought supplemental unemployment benefits were contributing to their hiring woes, while 14 percent said they were not able to attract candidates at the wage level they were willing to pay.
Twenty-two percent said they had been using remote and video consultations. Eighteen percent expanded their service area to find new customers in order to survive the economic conditions of the pandemic.
Maine and New Hampshire earned the highest rankings in the survey, with both states receiving A+ grades. Connecticut received a C- grade, while Massachusetts was rated a B- and Rhode Island a C+.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped drum up additional support for local businesses, and the results of a separate Thumbtack survey reflect this trend. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they were supporting local businesses on a weekly basis, while 32 percent did so monthly and 10 percent did so daily.
Three-quarters of respondents in this survey said they were tipping local service workers more. Thirty-six percent were making donations to local businesses, and 22 percent were paying local professionals even if they were not receiving services.
The Small Business Friendliness Survey was based on 3,648 responses from small business owners specializing in local services. Responses were concentrated in home maintenance, construction, and systems, which accounted for 42 percent of all responses.