Small Businesses Brace for Economic Challenges, AI Adoption Increasing: Homebase Survey


A recent survey conducted by Homebase, the all-in-one team management app supporting over 100,000 local small businesses, has revealed that small business owners are not only concerned about economic turbulence but also actively planning to combat it. The study, which surveyed more than 550 small business owners, was released in conjunction with National Small Business Week and highlights the resilience of these enterprises amidst challenges like inflation, interest rates, and the possible onset of a recession.

Small businesses are critical contributors to the economy, employing nearly 61.7 million Americans or approximately 46.4% of private sector employees. They also contribute about 40% of the nation’s GDP, making their wellbeing a key barometer of overall economic health. “The optimism of Main Street burns bright,” said John Waldmann, Founder & CEO of Homebase, underlining the determination and resilience of small businesses in the face of adversity.

The survey revealed that almost 60% of small business owners identified rising inflation, interest rates, and a potential recession as their main concerns, a slight increase from 56% in the previous year. Issues related to employee retention and recruitment were also significant, worrying over a third of the respondents.

However, small business owners aren’t simply fretting over these concerns; they’re actively seeking solutions. Almost half of the respondents plan to invest in employee retention (47%) and recruiting and onboarding (45%) in the coming year. Surprisingly, about one in four plan to invest in HR technology or operational efficiency improvements (24%).

An interesting development is the growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI). More than a quarter of the small business owners expressed interest in using AI to assist in their businesses, primarily for content development. Millennials are leading this charge, with one in seven millennial small business owners already using AI in some capacity, compared to one in 28 Gen X business owners.

The study also indicated a shift in the definition of success for small businesses post-pandemic. While revenue growth remains a top indicator, team growth and retention, along with improved operational efficiency, have gained importance. This change is likely linked to the ongoing employee labor shortage, which persists despite economic pressures that could potentially alleviate it.

Despite their concerns, small business owners remain hopeful. The word “optimistic” was the top choice when asked about the economy’s impact on their businesses. In fact, nearly 60% of respondents expect their business to fare better in the coming year than in the previous one.

Homebase’s survey offers a valuable insight into the minds of small business owners as they navigate the current economic landscape. It also underscores the importance of innovative tools and technologies, like Homebase’s all-in-one team management app, in helping small businesses overcome their challenges and thrive in the face of adversity.

Image: Depositphotos

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.