2019 State of Small Business: Letter from Scott Daugherty, State Director, Small Business and Technology Development Center.

Author:Daugherty, Scott
 
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Dear Readers,

We are once again pleased to provide the North Carolina Small Business Handbook. This year's edition features articles on successful North Carolina small businesses and highlights on topical areas of interest to owners of existing businesses and to those contemplating the startup of a new business.

Optimism and growth has been high--but, will it continue?

The state of small business here in North Carolina and nationally has been very positive over the past year. This has included continuing growth in the level of new business startups and in strong growth opportunities for existing small firms.

There are, however, growing concerns at the national level and globally with respect to a downturn in the overall economy. This is driven largely by conditions and economic trends that are well beyond the control of small businesses. But, based on current trends and global economic positions, it appears that there will be a slowdown in the pace of economic growth in the US over the next year or so. This is likely to dampen the level of new business starts and slow the pace of existing business growth in North Carolina.

Small business continues to be big business in North Carolina

The prolonged period of economic growth in the US and North Carolina has been good for small businesses. There has been continued, steady growth in new business starts and existing small business growth across the state. There are now over 890,000 small businesses in our state. These firms employ roughly 1.6 million people and account for approximately 60% of the private sector workforce and just over 45% of the Gross State Product.

Key challenges for small firms

All small firms at some point or another face challenges with respect to access to capital, compliance with local, state and federal regulations and the availability of qualified workforce to sustain and grow their business.

The Federal Reserve Bank (Richmond) "Small Business Credit Survey: 2019 Report on Employer Firms," conducted in the second half of 2018 showed revenue and employment growth among small firms (less than 500), but the number of firms operating at a profit remained flat. Over 70% of firms expected increased revenues in 2019, but less than half (44%) planned to add employees.

Nearly 2/3 of firms, however, continued to experience financial challenges--managing operation expenses, scarcity of credit and challenges with debt payments. Two-thirds of the firms also relied on personal...

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