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Survey of 254 Small Business Owners Shows Resiliency but Reveals Divisions in Attitudes Towards Work From Home and Marketing

One year after initial Coronavirus shutdowns, PostcardMania surveyed 254 small businesses owners to gauge how they fared the last year. Survey topics spanned a slew of issues, from pivots, revenue shortfalls and marketing to PPP forgiveness and work from home. Overall takeaways demonstrate small business resiliency and optimism, while quantifying the realities of a year living with Covid-19.

This survey is the second from PostcardMania, a nationwide marketing company with 96,765 US small business clients. PostcardMania first surveyed business owners at the end of May and into June 2020, creating, where appropriate, comparison between how business owners felt and about coronavirus and handled its difficulties then and now.

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PostcardMania’s latest data pool consisted of 254 small business owners, 66.15% of which reported employing between 2 and 499 employees. On average, respondents have been in business just shy of 17 years and cover a broad range of industries, from financial services to nonprofits, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, dentists, and everything in between.

The survey revealed several key insights about the “new normal” as it compares to a return to the “old normal.” Nearly 60% of respondents claimed they pivoted operations in some way in response to coronavirus, while a mere 3.24% of respondents had fully reverted back to the way things were pre-coronavirus. The majority (53.9%) will mostly or entirely maintain the changes they’ve made in the last year.

Responses show that small business owners may not yet embrace work from home on a full-time basis. The majority (55.73%) say all staff have returned to the office while only 13.74% are now allowing staff to work from home permanently. A further 19.85% claim a mix of staff working from home and in the office.

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Most companies (61.37%) responded to Covid-19 by adjusting how much money they were willing to spend on marketing — 46.37% spent less while 15% spent more. Respondents are split on how best to approach marketing at present. About half (44.5%) have returned their marketing to normal or even increased their marketing expenditure while slightly more (55.5%) are either marketing on a smaller scale or not marketing at all.

Only 51.21% of respondents applied for PPP loans. Of those that did, the overwhelming majority (84.44%) used PPP funds to cover payroll. Rent/mortgage (47.78%) and utilities (44.44%) were the second and third most-cited uses for PPP funds respectively.

As for revenue, 55.30% of respondents ended 2020 with revenues down more than 10% compared to 2019. When you factor in PPP, that number shrinks by 10.64% to 47.66% of respondents.

The survey’s silver living? The number of businesses that projected they would end the year with the same number of staff in June 2020 and those that did end the year with the same number of staff are virtually identical, and, by and large, most small businesses (57.82%) rate their handling of the pandemic as good or great.

PostcardMania Founder/CEO Joy Gendusa commented on the survey results, saying, “This survey just shows what so many people already instinctively know and love about the small business community — they are scrappy, resilient and cut from a different cloth. This is why you can never count them out. The small business community may suffer setbacks, but we are going nowhere!”

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