Small businesses have rebounded from COVID-19: Across both rural and non-rural locations, a third of small business owners (34.7%) say business has returned to pre-pandemic levels; another four in 10 (42.6%) say business is stronger than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
Rural entrepreneurs are uncertain: Despite their recovery, more than half of small businesses in rural communities (53.3%) feel somewhat or extremely negative about the economy and its effects.
Finding customers keeps business owners up at night—and so does inflation: Getting customers is the number one challenge for all small business owners: 54.6% cited it as one of their top three business challenges right now. For rural small business owners, however, inflation and supply chain disruptions also loom large.
Cash flow is a conundrum for rural businesses: Rural entrepreneurs are more likely than non-rural entrepreneurs to say they’re impacted by higher costs of doing business (i.e. rent, utilities, gas), as well as higher financing expenses (i.e. higher interest rates, costs to borrow).
Outside financing is helpful but elusive: Among all small businesses, two-thirds need outside financing while three-quarters have trouble accessing it. For those in rural areas, scarcity of local bank branches can be an added barrier.
Capital, debt relief and infrastructure are possible solutions: Rural and non-rural entrepreneurs agree that access to capital and loan forgiveness/debt relief programs would help them be more successful. Rural entrepreneurs, in particular, said infrastructure improvements also would be beneficial.