In April and May 2021, the Joint Center surveyed 1,238 small-business owners nationwide — including 383 Black, 452 Latino, and 403 white respondents. Black and Latino respondents were over-represented relative to their share of business owners. Most business owners surveyed earned an income of at least $50,000 but less than $250,000 annually. All business owners employed 250 or fewer employees, and most employed four or fewer employees (including the business owner).
Key findings include:
- Black business owners faced challenges accessing capital prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half (58.1 percent) of Black respondents reported that they faced challenges obtaining needed capital before the pandemic began. Less than one-fourth (24.2 percent) of white and just over one-third (35.8 percent) of Latino business owners reported facing challenges accessing capital.
- Black and Latino business owners face challenges related to the cost of business property. Both Black (28.3 percent) and Latino (25.7 percent) business owners reported challenges accessing affordable property. Black (32.0 percent) and Latino (25.9 percent) business owners reported challenges affording the changing cost of rent. Over half (50.1 percent) of white business owners reported having no property-related challenges, compared to about a third of Black and Latino business owners (33.1 and 28.9 percent, respectively).
- Black business owners were likely to report challenges with getting certifications to run their businesses. Black businesses owners faced challenges understanding which certifications were necessary (28.4 percent), affording the necessary certifications (25.3 percent), getting legal representation (26.4 percent), and being recognized as a real business entity (25.9 percent).
- Black business owners were more likely than white and Latino business owners to report seeking technical assistance services. Of Black business owners, 62.1 percent have sought out technical assistance services to help them start, grow, or support their business as compared with 49.5 percent of white and 41.6 percent of Latino business owners.
- Businesses faced challenges transitioning their operations to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols. Black (36.3 percent), white (42 percent), and Latino (32 percent) business owners faced challenges transitioning to the use of more technology.
- Small-business owners reported facing higher costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of white and Latino business owners and 42 percent of Black business owners reported paying more for products and services since the pandemic began.
- Business owners report challenges to engaging in the policymaking process. Black (28.1 percent), Latino (27.6 percent), and white (22.4 percent) small-business owners report that difficulties understanding policies that affect small businesses has limited their involvement in policy development. One in four Black and Latino small-business owners report that policies not being well-communicated affects their involvement in policy development.
- Black, white, and Latino business owners were aligned on top policy priorities. When asked about policies that would most directly support small-business owners during COVID-19, Black, white, and Latino small-business owners were most likely to say that providing direct grant assistance earmarked for small businesses, offering more tax benefits and incentives for small businesses, and expanding free and affordable healthcare benefits would help a lot.