Global Business Monitor

Insights from SMBs in the US and around the world

This year’s research surveyed 2,300 small and medium-sized businesses across 13 countries: Canada, USA, Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The report presents the opinions of owners and senior decision-makers of SMBs across the manufacturing, wholesale, transport, and services sectors.

The Global Business Monitor reports business sentiment on topics including confidence, sales expectations, the economy, access to finance and business challenges, including the causes of cash flow problems.

Download the BFS Global Business Monitor - US report  to discover where American SMBs see their best opportunities and challenges for the coming year. Or download the international edition for insights on how American SMBs compared with their global counterparts.

Download US report

Key findings

  • American SMBs remain confident in the US economy with 65% rating it as good and 43% believing that it will improve in the next 12 months
  • Two in five (42%) SMBs struggle with cash flow ranking as the top business challenge
  • On average, small businesses lost over $114,000 of revenue in the last 12 months due to bad debt
  • American SMBs are most likely to invest compared to businesses in Europe and Asia
  • SMBs rank access to finance as the top requirement to help them start exporting

This is an exciting time for American SMBs. There are challenges, and there is reason to be cautious as the global economy continues to show signs of a slowdown. However, with the US economy performing well, there are real opportunities to thrive and expand. DAVID CICCOLO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BIBBY FINANCIAL SERVICES, NAM

Global Business Monitor

SMB business sentiment

The report found that business confidence remains high in the US economic performance while small businesses expressed concerns about the stability of the global economy, and business ambition and growth expectations continue to be robust.

This seeming paradox may be explained by the relatively higher significance of domestic trade compared with global trade.

Global Business Monitor

Business challenges

American SMBs are struggling to access the cash they need to boost their growth, with two in five citing cash flow management as their greatest challenge. Late payment from slow paying customers was identified as one of the chief causes of cash flow problems by nearly half of SMBs.


Global trade

American small businesses have a relatively small exposure to global trade with 23% exporting and only 17% relying on exports for over half of their annual sales. Exporters cite government regulations (29%), foreign exchange fluctuations (14%) and logistics (12%) as the main obstacles to international trade.

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Access to finance for SMBs

Access to finance has gotten slightly tougher in the last two years with 19% currently rating availability as poor vs only 12% in 2017. The proportion of respondents who have been rejected for external finance also increased to 25% in 2019, from 10% in 2017. SMBs state poor credit history as the main reason lenders rejected their applications for funding.

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Payment practices

Late payment is a universal issue impacting businesses across the world and US SMBs are not spared. One in three (31%) of SMBs indicated it takes over 30 days before getting paid and 30% reported suffering a bad debt in the last 12 months from which they could not recover.

Businesses reported an average loss of $114,268 due to bad debt. As a result, their business growth was affected (41%) and one in five (20%) even ceased to trade.

Download US report

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