Americans Fed Up, But Like Small Businesses

Americans Still Positive About Small BusinessPlenty of Americans are fed up these days – but one institution they’re overall very happy with is small business, according to the results of a new survey just released by the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press.

The survey, The People and Their Government: Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor, focused mostly on Americans’ opinions about their government. However, part of the survey asked respondents for their feelings about major American institutions.

Survey respondents were grouped by whether they were “content,” “frustrated,” or “angry” with the federal government. Among all three groups, small business was the institution that got the most positive response. Asked whether small business has a positive effect on the way things are going in the U.S., 73 percent of the contented respondents, 74 percent of the frustrated respondents and 68 percent of the angry respondents said yes.

Small business received a higher positive rating than any other institution respondents were asked about, including churches and religious organizations, colleges and universities, the entertainment industry and the national news media.

Technology companies were the next highest-rated institution, getting a positive response from 73 percent of contented respondents, 70 percent of frustrated respondents and 59 percent of angry respondents.

By contrast, “large corporations” were rated positively by only 36 percent of contented respondents, 24 percent of frustrated respondents and 23 percent of angry respondents. (I guess the survey didn’t allow for the fact that many technology companies are also large corporations.)

Banks and financial institutions ranked even lower, garnering positive responses from 39 percent of contented respondents, 18 percent of frustrated respondents and 16 percent of angry respondents.

It’s heartening to see that small business isn’t being lumped with big business as a target for Americans’ frustration about the state of the economy. Writing about the report for the Orange County Register, blogger Jan Norman theorizes this is because people are more likely to have positive experiences and personal relationships with small businesses in their local community than with big corporations. I tend to agree. What do you think about the survey results?


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions
  1. Rieva,

    No surprises on this find. However, some large corporations do try harder to get closer to their customer base.

    Dell has done a nice job, and so has Ford, with social media rock star Scott Monty staying right in the middle of the conversation. is one to watch. 40,000 rabid fans follow him. As a matter of fact, all big corporations should watch how he engages…

    The Franchise King

  2. As a small business owner, I am grateful for the props towards small business. However, I think the disparity in attitude between small and ‘big business’ is simply a reflection of the relentless demonization of corporations by our modern culture. It’s easy to repeat the modern mantra about those heartless cruel corporations until it’s either the one owned by your uncle, the company you enjoy trading with on Main street, or the one you work for.