Small Business Trends Graph

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Trends figures are compiled from anonymized data submitted by 1.4 million QuickBooks users, based on number of users as of January 2014.

See how your business peers are doing. For key financial stats, choose an Industry below.

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How are these numbers calculated?

Sales Growth (past 12 months)
New vs Existing Customer Sales
Cash Flow (quick ratio)
Days Receivables Outstanding
Days Payables Outstanding
Net Profit Margin
Gross Profit Margin
Operating Profit Margin

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In depth: Industry trends in income & expenses

How are these numbers calculated?

Median Total Income (past 12 months)
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Median Total Expenses (past 12 months)
Income by Category
Expenses by Category

Where is this data coming from?

Trends figures are averages from the past 12 months of anonymous data submitted by a subset of more than 1.5 million QuickBooks users.

Important to Understand

This raw, anonymized data is collected from QuickBooks Online customers only. The data is presented as-is and is not clear from anomalies, so it may not be representative of all small businesses in the US. A lag time of several months should be factored in for some QuickBooks users who enter receipts and payments manually into the QuickBooks product, and this may change the income/expense numbers over time.

The calculation methods (weighted averages by state) used in QuickBooks Trends may differ from Intuit’s Small Business Revenue Index due to the use of a different subset of customers. Due to this, some industries and geographies may be over- or under- represented.

This tool is intended only to augment existing research and not to drive decisions without additional inputs.

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How are these numbers calculated?

Results are based on data aggregated over the past 12 months.

Net Profit Margin

(Net Profit ÷ Total Income) x 100

Sales From Existing Customers

(Existing Customer Sales ÷ Sales Current Period) x 100

Sales From New Customers

(New Customer Sales ÷ Sales Current Period) x 100

Sales Growth

(Sales Current Period - Sales Previous Period) ÷ abs(Sales Previous Period) x 100

Gross Profit Margin

(Gross Profit ÷ Income) x 100

Operating Profit Margin

(Operating Profit ÷ Income) x 100

Cash Flow (quick ratio)

Total Current Assets ÷ Total Current Liabilities

Days Payables Outstanding

Accounts Payable ÷ (Annual Purchases ÷ 360)

Days Receivables Outstanding

Accounts Receivable ÷ (Sales This Period ÷ 360)

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Studying Small-Business Trends

Economic uncertainty has challenged many U.S. companies since the "great recession" of 2008. Yet thanks in part to a vibrant small-business sector enabled by new technologies, the nation’s gross domestic product grew 12.8 percent from 2010 to 2013. More gains are forecast for 2014 and beyond.

The Small Business Administration estimates that the 23 million small businesses operating in America today account for 54 percent of total sales. The 600,000 franchises among them alone ring up 40 percent of all retail sales and provide 8 million jobs across the country. Of course, job creation has long been the domain of entrepreneurs: Since the 1970s, small enterprises have generated 66 percent of net new jobs, a figure that continues to grow.

The Small Business Administration estimates that the 23 million small businesses operating in America today account for 54 percent of total sales. The 600,000 franchises among them alone ring up 40 percent of all retail sales and provide 8 million jobs across the country. Of course, job creation has long been the domain of entrepreneurs: Since the 1970s, small enterprises have generated 66 percent of net new jobs, a figure that continues to grow.

View Small Business Trends Data on a Map of the United States View Business Trends Data on a Map
As large corporations downsize, an ever-increasing number of startups are opening their doors for business.

How Technology Defined Small Business in 2013

Technology continues to propel the U.S. economy by enabling small-business owners to rapidly make informed, data-driven decisions. This assists in reducing wasteful spending practices and streamlining business processes. Here are the most notable technology innovations of the past year that helped to shape small companies.

Mobile

More than 1 billion people on the planet now use tablets or smartphones, which is changing the way they shop. A survey by the Credit Union National Association shows that more than 50 percent of smartphone users in the United States made mobile payments in 2013. Respondents cited ease of use as their key motivating factor.

Going forward, this suggests that small-business owners should take steps to ensure that their websites load fast and work flawlessly on mobile devices. Catering to tech-savvy consumers on-the-go can boost customer-satisfaction rates, brand awareness, and marketing efficiency.

Touch-screen

Touchscreen technology enabled more retail merchants and service providers to accept payments and survey customers on the spot with smartphones and tablets in 2013. Many businesses are finding it easy to justify the costs of procuring and maintaining touchscreen devices because they increase operational efficiency and equate to faster response times.

Crowd-funding

Gone are the days when entrepreneurs needed to woo a VC to get a startup off the ground. In 2013, raising funds to realize a business idea became easier than ever, as crowdfunding went mainstream. Websites such as Kickstarter, Fundly and IndieGoGo (to name a few) helped small businesses raise money through micro donations from myriad individual supporters.

By using social media to promote their crowdfunding campaigns, many entrepreneurs have been able to surpass their funding requirements and generate strong consumer interest in their future products or services.

Big data

Most companies actively collect data about their sales and earnings, processes, and customers, but it can be tough to sort and analyze the wealth of information. In 2013, small-business owners discovered that big data technology isn’t just for big businesses — even small enterprises with limited resources can use it to their advantage.

Free tools like Google Analytics and AdWords enable anyone to analyze web search rankings, monitor and compare marketing campaigns, and track social media growth. Open-source solutions such as Apache’s Cassandra and Hadoop have spurred the growth of many tech startups, providing the new businesses with robust and stable solutions to be used as the backbone of their data-driven applications. A growing number of low-cost apps, such as those from Tableau Software, enable entrepreneurs to measure and analyze big data without a dedicated technical team.

Slowest Growth (by Industry and Region)

The industries that faced rapid decline last year include textile mills, computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, metalwork machinery manufacturing, and glass products manufacturing.

By state, Delaware had the slowest pace of sales with a -1.25 percent growth rate and a net profit margin of 13.28 percent in 2013, small-business data provided by Intuit shows. It was followed by Indiana (-0.26 and 14.25 percent), Illinois (-0.08 and 11.73 percent), Hawaii (1.07 and 14.71 percent), and Florida (1.15 and 12.92 percent).

Fastest Growth (by Industry and Region)

On the flip side, Missouri had the fastest rate of sales growth in the country last year, with an annual pace of 7.47 percent and a net profit margin of 14.66 percent. It is followed by Nevada (6.91 and 14.82 percent), Tennessee (6.53 and 14.04 percent), Maine (6.29 and 15.05 percent) and Nebraska (5.62 and 16.83 percent).

Nonetheless, industries continue to struggle to recover post-recession. Looking ahead, the following sectors are expected to show the fastest growth through 2022, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics [PDF]:

  • Home health-care services
  • Individual and family services
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Construction

What to Expect in 2014

The latest Small Business Optimism Index by the National Federation of Independent Business shows a slight increase in outlook in January to 94.1 , and 12 percent of respondents plan to add jobs. However, "expectations for future small-business conditions" declined. Many small-business owners applaud the Obama administration’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which removes obstacles to business financing. Conversely, new federal health-care requirements have created uncertainty among many small-business owners.

Economists, analysts, and Wall Street research firms have started to make predictions for 2014 and beyond. After sub-par performance in 2013, the U.S. economy should grow at a pace of 3 percent in 2014 and 2015, according to the UBS economics team [PDF]. The median forecast of 41 economists surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia calls for 2.6 percent GDP growth in 2014 and 2.9 percent GDP growth in 2015.

Technology will continue to dominate economic and social changes in 2014. Smartinsights.com reports that more people will connect to the internet with smart devices — cell phones, tablets, game consoles — than users accessing the web via personal computers. Internet-based telephony will continue to fuel the growth of telecommunications while reducing the associated expenses for businesses.

Business opportunities in 2014 include home health care, children’s fitness programs, business consulting, and residential cleaning services, especially for companies that are based on a franchised business model.