Small Business Data

Small business owners: The heart and heroes of communities

There are more than 33 million small businesses in the US alone. These businesses power the economy, support local communities, and put customers first. They’re the unsung heroes of the business world — but a recent survey commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks found that consumers are beyond ready to sing their small business praises. More than 3 in 5 (64%) say small business owners are the heroes of their communities — and they deserve recognition.

May 16 marks Small Business Hero Day, a day we encourage you to recognize the small business heroes in your own community while we celebrate the small business heroes across the country. This year, we wanted to investigate all the ways small business owners champion their communities and power success beyond their businesses. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats, and supporting small business success means supporting communities everywhere.

Insights from the survey below illustrate just how much small business owners are showing up for their communities — and how consumers show up for small businesses.

Keeping it local

According to consumers, one of the top economic benefits small businesses bring to their local communities is job creation. Survey findings show that small businesses play a pivotal role supporting smaller economies by hiring local talent. One in 2 small business workers are hired from the local community — helping to support a robust local workforce.

1 in 2 employees are hired from the local community

Even in the digital age where options are endless and distance is a much smaller hurdle, small businesses are opting for the local choice when it comes to suppliers. On average, small businesses source nearly half (49%) of their suppliers from their local community.

But small business owners aren’t pouring into their communities alone — they’re empowering their employees to do the same. More than 7 in 10 (76%) small business owners say they offer volunteer or community service opportunities to employees. 

Customer care

There is near 100% agreement from survey respondents that small businesses go above and beyond for their customers and community. This means giving back to their local communities, sponsoring community events, and gestures as simple as remembering regular customers’ orders. It’s no surprise that 7 in 10 consumers say small business owners should get more recognition. 

Small business owners truly love and value their customers — and the numbers back it up. Despite the demands of owning a business, more than 8 in 10 (83%) small business owners agree that providing a stellar customer experience is just as important as increasing their profits. For these business owners, making customers happy is just as important as making a sale. There’s also near complete consensus (97%) that improving the customer experience is a priority for the next year.

And this care and consideration goes beyond business. The survey found that most small business owners are invested in the personal wellbeing of their customers. Three in 5 (62%) small business owners say they ask how their customers are doing personally at least a few times a week. 

But it’s not all rosy when it comes to the owner-customer dynamic. Two in 3 (66%) small business owners say that the highly politicized cultural divide has negatively impacted their customer interactions.

66% say a politicized cultural divide has negatively impacted customer interactions

Despite this strain, most consumers (90%) say it’s still important to shop local and support small businesses. A good thing too — recent data indicates that small businesses are struggling, and small business owners agree that community support is crucial. Seven in 10 (72%) say support from their local community is survival-critical for their businesses.

Giving back

No matter how you slice it, the positive influence small businesses have on their local communities is indisputable. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers say these businesses are the lifeblood of their communities. And survey results show that small business owners go above and beyond to support their communities’ welfare. Regardless of the time crunch that comes with running a business, more than 9 in 10 (93%) small business owners have spent their personal time volunteering in their communities in the past year.

93% have spent personal time volunteering in their communities

But these business owners aren’t just pouring into their communities on their personal time — they’re using their businesses to back up their communities and support their most vulnerable populations. More than 9 in 10 (93%) small businesses have donated money or goods to local organizations in the past year. And a little over a third (37%) of small businesses have played an active role in supporting local healthcare, education, and resettlement initiatives.

For small businesses, giving back also means supporting their peers. They know that supporting all small businesses means supporting the local economy. Eight in 10 (82%) small businesses report actively supporting or promoting other local businesses in their community. And this extends to their digital communities as well. Small businesses report referring, on average, 5 businesses from their digital communities to family and friends. 

Digital community heroes

Thanks to the digital transformation that small businesses have gone through over the last decade, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners are better connected with entrepreneurs, customers, and leads — building digital communities around the globe. And they’re harnessing that power. On average, small business owners report spending up to 10 hours a day interacting with their online communities. These interactions aren’t any less meaningful than in-person connections. In fact, many of these business owners (80%) agree that interactions with customers and other business owners can actually be more meaningful when they take place online.

What’s more, building these digital communities has pushed small business owners to deliver better, faster customer service — both online and in person. Nine in 10 (92%) small business owners agree that their digital communities have helped them improve customer service. On average, small business owners are taking less than a day (21 hours) to respond to digital inquiries or complaints.

92% agree that their digital communities have helped them improve customer service.

And the benefits go beyond customer satisfaction. In addition to connecting with a wider consumer audience, these small business owners are making invaluable contributions to digital communities of peers — sharing insights from their experiences and helping other small businesses achieve success faster. Nine out of 10 (93%) small business owners have provided or received business advice to/from their digital communities. And 2 in 5 (42%) of those owners have provided advice about how to boost customer demand and choose the right digital tools.

These communities have also helped small business owners level up their appeal to younger consumers. More than 8 in 10 (86%) of small business owners say their digital communities have helped them understand how to better serve Gen Z customers — a pivotal audience with significant spending power.

Sample and methodology

Intuit QuickBooks Hero Day Insights 2023

Online survey commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks in April 2023 of 2,400 small business owners throughout the US. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) respondents are aged 25-34 and 38% fall between the ages of 35-44. Average annual income of respondents is $108,942. Seven in 10 (72%) respondents are white. The average number of employees is 36. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal place, so some charts or statistics shown here may not add up to 100% but 99% or 101% instead. Responses were collected in online surveys using Pollfish audience pools and partner networks with double opt-ins, random device engagement sampling, and post-stratification based on local census data to ensure accurate targeting and results. Respondents received remuneration.


This content, report and materials are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting, financial, investment, or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc., or its affiliates do not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc., or its affiliates do not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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