B2B Payments

Despite Natural Disasters And Late Payments, SMBs Remain Encouraged

A hurricane-sized hiccup in U.S. small business hiring, a generational gap in SMB optimism and a slew of stubborn U.K. small firms: These are a few of the takeaways from this week’s B2B Data Digest, which examines the state of small businesses both in the U.S. and in the U.K. Overall, the numbers are pretty encouraging, with small business owners reporting positive outlooks despite some serious challenges, from natural disasters to a culture of late supplier payments. We break down key findings below.

-3 million U.K. small businesses still don’t accept card payments, found new data from Square. That’s despite a sixth of shoppers using only a card to pay at these small merchants. According to researchers, small business owners could be missing out on a lot of money by not accepting card payments and not adopting the technology to do so, with 60 percent of shoppers noting they would spend more at a small business if they could use a card to pay. But 44 percent of small business owners said they don’t believe they’re missing out on sales by not accepting cards, the survey said.

-7,000 jobs were cut at U.S. small businesses in September, according to ADP data. Hurricanes were the main culprit behind the job losses, with many small businesses in Texas and Florida closing their doors before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma; damage to these businesses sustained during the hurricanes also had an impact on job numbers. According to the Labor Department, applications for unemployment increased immediately after the hurricanes. Overall, 135,000 jobs across companies of all sizes were added in the month, the lowest number in a year, researchers said.

-81 percent of millennial small business owners are confident in the U.S. economy, more than other age groups, according to the First Citizens Bank Small Business Forecast released last week. Researchers also noted that millennial small business owners are more eager to grow their companies compared to Generation X or baby boomers. A top concern for millennial small business owners? Employee retention, the survey found, with a fifth reporting they hadn’t expected employee retention to be as difficult as it is. Still, regardless of age, overall small business owners in the U.S. are feeling pretty good, with 68 percent saying they are optimistic about future economic conditions of their businesses.

-Two-thirds of U.K. SMBs believe there is a culture of late supplier payments, with even more identifying this pattern in London. New data from the Close Brothers Business Barometer found that late payments to small businesses remain a problem, with consequences including damage to business reputation and supply chains, impact on credit ratings and the subsequent ability to access funding, reports said. A quarter of small businesses surveyed said they were forced to seek legal advice because of this culture of slow B2B payments, and nearly three-quarters say the current regulatory environment does not adequately address the issue.

-27 percent of U.S. small businesses said they expected better sales in August, found the NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released last week. The report found the highest level of small businesses planning to make capital expenditures in more than 10 years, with overall optimism yielding increased employment activity. According to the NFIB, much of the positive outlook can be attributed to high customer demand and a relief in regulatory pressure on SMBs; small businesses, the report found, are now planning to invest in technology, equipment and facilities.

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