CNBC News Releases


Quarterly Survey Finds Record-High Small Business Confidence

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, August 15, 2018 — CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey, a global provider of survey software products, today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

Each quarter, CNBC and SurveyMonkey poll over 2,000 small business owners aiming to measure the vitality of the American economy as well as the view from Main Street on jobs, taxes and other hot topics. In addition to measuring small business confidence nationwide, the large sample size gives CNBC the power to uncover trends by geographic region and among specific small business cohorts.

Key findings from the Q3 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:

  • 58% of small business owners surveyed say overall business conditions are good, up from 53% in Q2, and up 39% from the third quarter of 2017. 33% of small business owners plan to increase headcount over the next 12 months, up from 31% in Q2 and 26% in Q3 2017. Small business owners are increasingly divided along party lines when it comes to their views on trade: 34% of Republican small business owners expect trade will have a positive effect on their business (up from 29% a year ago), while 58% of Democrats expect trade will have a negative effect on their business (up from 31% a year ago.) Despite this, 51% of small business owners (including 50% of Republicans) believe free trade agreements help small business.
  • 34% of small business owners say tariffs, like those proposed by President Trump, will hurt their business (65% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans.) 8% of small business owners say they've already made changes, and 21% are planning to make changes, as a result of tariffs.
  • 16% of small business owners (but 41% of small businesses with 50 employees or more) have had open positions for at least three months. 45% of small business owners say a lack of education is the biggest reason firms struggle to fill skilled positions. 28% of small business owners believe they are unable to fill skilled positions because large corporations are able to offer better pay and benefits.
  • 22% of all respondents believe the most important issue in the upcoming midterm elections is taxes/spending, followed by the cost of healthcare (16%) and the wealth gap (14%.)

"Small business was a prime target for the Republican-led tax reform, and tax policy remains a salient focus for small business owners in the upcoming midterm elections. More than one in five (22 percent) small business owners single out taxes and government spending as the issue that matters most to the success of their businesses—more than any other issue including health care, immigration, regulations, and unemployment," said Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey.

CNBC Small Business Reporter Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Wednesday, August 15th throughout CNBC's Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to:

SurveyMonkey created a unique Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI), which is a 100 point score based on responses to eight key questions. The index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. The third quarter of 2018's SBCI has jumped from an overall value of 61 to 62, indicating that small business owners are markedly more optimistic than pessimistic about the direction their business will go in the next 12 months. This is the highest the SBCI has been since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began polling businesses six quarters ago, tied with Q1 2017.

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey's online platform from July 27 – August 5 among a national sample of 2,085 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. Respondents for this survey were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Data for this quarter have been weighted to be representative of small business owners nationally, according to business characteristics from the Small Business Administration's 2013 Statistics of U.S. Businesses and owner characteristics from the Census Bureau's 2012 Survey of Business Owners.

*CNBC/Survey Monkey additionally surveyed 9,565 individuals who do not own small businesses. Data for questions asked of the general population have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Dauble

Irina Efremova

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About SurveyMonkey:

Founded in 1999, SurveyMonkey changed the way people gather feedback by making it easy for anyone to create their own online surveys. Today, SurveyMonkey's mission is to power curious individuals and organizations to measure, benchmark and act on the opinions that drive success. Our People Powered Data platform enables conversations at scale to deliver impactful customer, employee and market insights. The company's 700+ employees are dedicated to fueling the curiosity of over 16 million active users globally. For more information about SurveyMonkey, please visit