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Surprising Small Business Trends Revealed in New Survey by Guidant Financial and LendingClub

Whether it was tackling increases to state wages, adopting new technologies or understanding federal tax changes, the last year dealt small business owners their fair share of challenges. Fortunately, it was also a year of marked economic strength, giving entrepreneurs confidence to start, buy or grow a business. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates three times — the fastest it’s increased in 10 years — employment rates dipped below five percent and the stock market hit record highs — all great reasons for small business owners to feel optimistic about the upcoming year.

In fact, a survey conducted by Guidant Financial and LendingClub revealed 75 percent of business owners ranked their confidence in small business in today’s political climate as a seven or higher on a scale of ten. The survey, which saw responses from over 2,600 business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, also collected data on a number of small business trends, Main Street demographics and challenges faced by new entrants.

So what were the top small business trends for 2018? Here are some of the most exciting statistics revealed by the survey [full infographic below]:

  • Business owners love what they do. Main Street entrepreneurs aren’t just optimistic about their futures; they enjoy the life of being their own boss. On average, current business owners ranked their overall happiness as an eight out of ten.

  • The majority of business owners are in their 50s. Despite what you’ve seen on TV, small business owners aren’t launching operations from their parent’s garage. Most small business owners are seasoned professionals who became entrepreneurs in their second (or third or fourth) careers. With 33 percent of survey respondents in their 50s and another 21 percent in their 60s, entrepreneurs are proof that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

  • Women and minorities are setting up shop. Though there’s a long way to go before representation is equal on Main Street, strides are being made toward more diverse demographics. Compared to last year’s survey, there was an increase in both minority and women-owned businesses. Most notably, there were 18 percent more business owners who identified as women.

  • A college degree isn’t a prerequisite. Or any business school, for that matter. In fact, if you ask a small business owner where they graduated from, you may get the name of their high school. Thirty-four percent of current business owners reported their highest level of education was a high school diploma or GED.

  • Alternative funding methods Are a Top Choice. Even with a strong economy in place, business owners prefer to avoid the lengthy application and compounded debt associated with traditional business loans. Instead, almost 60 percent of hopeful entrepreneurs relied on cash to launch their ventures. Also popular as means of financing were funding from friends and family (22 percent), 401(k) business financing (22 percent) and a line of credit (17 percent).

  • Aspiring business owners struggle to find financing. There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., but how many more would there be if entrepreneurs had greater access to capital? According to our survey, many more. About 66 percent of aspiring business owners reported their biggest barrier to launching a business was finding adequate financing. And the largest hurdle to securing capital was lack of cash to use as a down payment on a loan.


Even with challenges in finding start-up cash, business owners are happier and more confident than ever, and we expect 2018 to be another great year to start a business.

Learn more about 2018 small business trends and statistics in our full report on the current State of Small Business.

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