New Hampshire’s business owners report that their financial situations are improving. Results from Phase 3 of the NH Small Business Development Center’s Business Resiliency Survey show that respondents are becoming more optimistic about the likelihood of remaining in business for the near future.
Phase 3 is the conclusion of a three-part survey, conducted with the UNH Survey Center from September 15 through October 11. Phase 3 received 1,057 responses from businesses in 165 cities and towns. Sixty-four business organizations partnered with the SBDC by sending an open-link email invitation to participate in the survey to their member businesses.
Phase 1 took place in June 2020, and Phase 2 in February 2021. The survey is made possible because of funds from the CARES Act.
Businesses’ financial outlook has improved. In June 2020, more than four in five reported their monthly revenue had decreased as a result of the pandemic. Currently, just over half report that their revenue has been negatively affected by the pandemic. In an effort to control costs, one-quarter of respondents also said that their owners are working without a salary. However, nearly one in five say their revenue has actually increased.
When asked how they expect NH businesses will do in the upcoming year, 33% of respondents said businesses will enjoy good times financially, 10% think they will experience bad times, and 56% anticipate mixed conditions.
Two-thirds of respondents report being affected by supply chain issues this year. More than half say they have been affected by increased costs of goods and delays in sourcing from domestic suppliers while four in 10 have been affected by higher domestic shipping costs.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents say their business applied for COVID relief in 2020, just under half have applied in 2021, and just over half would consider applying if more relief funds were made available in the future. The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was the most-used COVID relief program, with nine out of ten businesses receiving PPP aid.
Respondents most frequently cite maintaining sales or revenue, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, maintaining customers, supply chain disruptions, and public acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine as things they are currently concerned about, while slightly fewer mention energy costs and cybersecurity.
Recruiting and retaining workforce remains a significant concern. Nearly half say they currently have the same number of employees as in February 2020, while three in eight report having fewer employees. Businesses are managing staffing recruitment and retention challenges by reducing open hours, allowing remote work, increasing efficiency or automation, or by offering increased compensation and one-time bonuses.