April 3-6

This data reflects insights gathered from a series of research studies focused on how SMB owners are faring during the COVID pandemic. The Harris Poll teamed with TriNet, a comprehensive HR Solutions provider for SMBs. These initiatives focus on the state of SMB beyond TriNet’s own customer base and provides an insightful narrative as to how SMBs have coped and adapted during these challenging months.

Despite the current economic environment and the difficult decisions being made, the Harris Poll/TriNet survey revealed that SMB optimism is surprisingly resilient. In fact, nearly 80% of polled companies have made strategic investments to keep their businesses operational through the pandemic, and 76% of those who have made investments are confident these investments will pay off after COVID-19.

In the initial study (April 3 – 6), 65% believed that the US economy will recover in a year. Data gathered from May 5 – 8 shows that this sentiment has remained relatively flat with 61% anticipating recovery within a year.

As to confidence into the prospects of their own business’ survival: opinion seems to be relatively stable, although exhibiting a slight downward trend, perhaps due to persistent closures and lost revenue.

The survey highlights that revenue is down for 78% of SMBs responding – and they’re looking for liquidity. When asked how much cash for operating expenses they have on hand and how long can it last:

  • 4 in 10 don’t have the cash reserves to last longer than three months without help
  • 31% can last more than six months.

However, SMBs being the entrepreneurs they are, are taking necessary steps to control their costs:

  • 67% have reduced payroll costs (including 40% taking a reduced salary for themselves)
  • 54% have made changes to their business model or product / service offerings since the crisis began
  • 48% have applied for financial support through the CARES Act



For this research, TriNet teamed with The Harris Poll to conduct a series of ten online surveys from April 3 to May 8 among small business leaders in U.S. companies with 5 to 249 employees. Between 150-200 responses were collected for each of the ten waves. Business leaders were qualified as either owners/partners or C-level executives.

View the complete whitepaper.


Amber Broughton

Managing Director

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