Is the Recession an Opportunity for Americans to Launch Small Businesses?

To better understand the motivators and challenges facing future business owners, Constant Contact, the digital marketing and CRM platform, released its Small Business Now: A 2023 Recession Forecast report. The research included a survey of 2,496 adults, of whom 1,207 were employed on either a full-time or part-time basis, between Jan. 25 and 27, 2023.

Considering the recession and ongoing layoffs, Constant Contact asked survey respondents how they would respond if their jobs were impacted. The findings, researchers said indicate confidence in entrepreneurship as a career path with 45 percent of Americans reporting that they would pursue becoming a small business owner or recommend that path to someone else in the case of income loss. A third also said if the recession impacted their job, they would supplement their current income by starting a side hustle while maintaining the job they are already in.

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“It’s often assumed that recessions are inopportune times to launch a business, but historical data shows us that downturns frequently lead to a spike in new business applications,” said Laura Goldberg, chief marketing officer at Constant Contact. “The findings from our report prove that Americans are excited about small business ownership, regardless of economic conditions.”

Notably, the company’s survey revealed that Americans are so confident in starting a business that 45 percent said they would be comfortable doing so with $10,000 or less in savings with 22 percent reporting they wouldn’t need more than $2,000.

Still, Constant Contact points out that feeling prepared to start a side hustle or small business does not come without challenges and reports that Americans are not immune to acknowledging the potential of increased difficulty due to a rocky economy. The most pressing area, according to the company, is support with marketing a business and keeping customers engaged. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents agree, saying they would most pressingly need help with marketing, customer acquisition and building a website or e-commerce store when starting a business.

Just over a quarter of employed Americans surveyed said start-up costs would be the biggest barrier preventing them to start their own business or side hustle in 2023 with another 21 percent citing too much risk in today’s financial climate. To navigate some costs, many said they were taking a do-it-yourself approach.

When asked about which steps they would take to be successful in starting their own business or side hustle, the top answer was that they’d look for free lessons, video tutorials and other resources — only 16 percent said they would go back to school to learn how to run a business.

Constant Contact is used by millions of small businesses and nonprofits to help them grow. Americans “are actively looking for opportunities to scale up their side hustles and passion projects this year, and they are highly motivated to succeed,” Goldberg said. “As champions of small businesses, [Constant Contact] will continue to support their journey by delivering the tools and support needed to help them launch their new venture, grow a customer base and market themselves online.”

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