SBDC's 2023 New Hampshire Small Business Survey was conducted by the UNH Survey Center to assess the needs and challenges of businesses throughout the state from September 13th to November 13th. Sixty-six business organizations, from a wide range of industries and regions, partnered with the NH SBDC to encourage their communities to participate in the survey. Overall, 829 participants from 157 towns and cities completed the survey.
The New Hampshire Small Business Survey has now been conducted twice by NH SBDC, in partnership with the UNH Survey Center. We also conducted three NH SBDC Business Resiliency Surveys during 2020 and 2021 to discover current and lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Granite State's small businesses.
SBDC and other NH economic development partners are listening, learning and better able to respond to the business community’s needs with the information we have gained from the 2023 survey. We explored how businesses have built resiliency and where they may still need our help, and what factors are currently affecting businesses. Hearing from business owners helps SBDC and other economic development organizations to better understand their challenges and needs going forward. By leveraging the results of the surveys, we can more effectively assist small businesses.
Respondents indicate that their businesses employ very slightly more people currently than they did a year ago. More than four in ten expect their staffing needs to increase in the next year, unchanged since 2022, and very few expect their staffing needs to decrease. Healthcare and social assistance businesses are particularly likely to expect their staff needs to increase. Three-quarters of businesses struggled a lot or some to hire employees in the past six months, matching results in 2022, particularly health care and social assistance and manufacturing businesses and those with more than 25 employees. Among those who struggled to hire, a majority offered increased compensation or flexible hours to help with hiring, but less than a quarter used any other strategy.
Most respondents say that their business offers paid vacations to full-me employees, but less than half provided other benefits such as medical insurance or paid sick leave. Nearly half of respondents say that at least some of their business's employees work remotely at least one day per week on average. Most respondents think that their employees find it difficult to access affordable housing and many believe their employees struggle to access childcare. The vast majority believe that their employees are satisfied with their work schedule, their compensation, and their benefits.
More than three-quarters of respondents say that they are very or somewhat concerned about their business being able to find new employees and paying their current employees competitive wages. Majorities are also concerned about being able to retain their current employees and offering competitive benefits. To help with employee retention, about four in ten say their business increased compensation and three in ten offered flexible hours to their employees.
Workplace Disability Accommodations
About one in six respondents say that their business provided workplace accommodations to employees experiencing a disability in the past year, particularly larger businesses. The most commonly used types of accommodation were modified schedules, job restructuring or modified dues, and flexible breaks.
Supply Chain Issues
Six in ten respondents say their business has been affected a lot or some by supply chain issues in 2023, down from three-quarters who said this was the case in 2022. Arts, entertainment, and recreation and retail trade businesses saw particularly large drops in the proportion who have been affected a lot or some by supply chain issue. A majority say they have experienced supply chain issues in the form of higher costs or price uncertainty, while more than one-third have experienced higher shipping costs or delays in sourcing from suppliers.
Four in ten respondents say that their business has a resiliency or continuity plan, down slightly from 2022, particularly among retail trade and accommodation and food services businesses. Among those who have such a plan, a majority say they created their plan in the past four years. Half or more say that their plan includes a plan for disruptive events, unexpected death or incapacity of the owner or proprietor, and a list of potential threats to business operations, but less than half have other components such as cybersecurity protocols or employees having being trained to implement the plan. Larger businesses and those located in Hillsborough County tend to be more likely to have a plan and have plans with a greater number of components.
Business's Financial Health
Two-thirds of respondents or more are very or somewhat concerned about inflation, maintaining revenue, energy costs, and maintaining customers. Compared to 2022, respondents are less concerned about energy costs and supply chain interruptions but are slightly more concerned about access to capital. Few are concerned about being forced to lay off or furlough employees or defaulting on existing loans. Respondents who do not identify as Caucasian/White only are a good deal more likely than others to be concerned about timely payment of bills, being forced to lay off employees, and defaulting on existing loans.
About one-third say their business is beer off than a year ago, while just under a quarter say they are worse off. Respondents are slightly more opmisc when projecng into the future, as four in ten expect their business will be beer off in a year, unchanged compared to 2022, and only one-tenth expect to be worse off. Younger people, those whose business is in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry, and those located on the Seacoast are most optimistic about their business's financial outlook.
State Business Environment
Half of respondents expect mixed business conditions in New Hampshire over the next year, while a quarter expect good times, up from about one-fifth who felt that way in 2022.
When asked what they consider to be the most important problem facing the business community in New Hampshire, respondents most frequently mention the labor shortage or labor costs, housing availability or costs, or inflation. Respondents are less likely to mention inflation than they were in 2022 but are slightly more likely to mention healthcare or child care. When asked for one positive thing about the New Hampshire business environment, respondents most frequently mention an overall good business environment, a lack of sales or income tax, and a supportive business community. Respondents under the age of 40 are more likely to mention a supportive business community and the state having good customers, while those over the age of 70 are more likely to mention low taxes
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Thank you to SBDC's Survey Partners
- U.S. Small Business Administration - NH District Office
- NH Department of Business & Economic Affairs
- UNH Peter T. Paul College of Business & Economics
- NH Department of Transportation
- Center for Women & Enterprise
- UNH Alumni Center
- UNH CAPS
- UNH CEO & Family Enterprise Center
- UNH Cooperative Extension
- UNH Innovation
- UNH Institute of Disability
- Arts Alive
- Belknap EDC
- Business Alliance for People of Color - BAPOC
- Capital Regional Development Corporation
- Center for Business Anayltics
- Center for Women and Enterprise
- Chambers of Commerce
- Community Development Finance Authority
- Coös Economic Development Corporation
- Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
- Granite Outdoor Alliance
- Hannah Grimes Center
- Lakes Regional Planning Commission
- Manchester Economic Development Office
- Manchester NAACP
- Mt Washington Valley Economic Council
- Nashua Regional Planning Commission
- Newmarket Business Association
- NH Community Loan Fund
- NH Lodging & Restaurant Association
- NH Manufacturing Extension Partnership
- NH Retail Association
- NH Tech Alliance
- Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center
- SCORE NH
- Senator Hassan's Office
- Senator Shaheen's Office
- State Early Learning Alliance
- Straffod Economic Development Corporation of NH
- Town of Derry, Economic Development
- Upper Valley Business Alliance
- Upper Valley Lake Sunapee RPC
- Victory Women of Vision
- Wentworth Economic Development Corp., Inc
- Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Derry Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce
- Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce
- The Falls Chamber of Commerce
- Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce
- Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce
- Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce
- Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce
- Northern Gateway Chamber of Commerce
- Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth
- Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
- Western White Mountains Chamber of Commerce
- Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce
- The Greater Monadnock Collaborative
- Twin Mountain Bretton Woods Chamber