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2024 Is a ‘Make or Break’ Year, According to Slack’s Survey of U.S. Small Business Owners

A new survey by Slack, a Salesforce company, of 2,000 small business owners — half comprised of businesses in tech or retail — found that 40% believe 2024 is a “make or break” year for their business. 

Why it matters: Small businesses, which generate roughly 44% of GDP, serve as the foundation of the U.S. economy. And yet, they are constantly under pressure to navigate a changing landscape of both growth opportunities and challenges. 

By the numbers:

Technology, including AI, helped many small business owners exceed expectations

  • 49% said their business performed somewhat or much better than anticipated in 2023, while only 21% said it was worse than anticipated.
  • By the end of 2023, 47% of small business owners generated new customers, 30% made a profit, and 26% implemented new technologies.
  • When asked what these new technologies were, small business owners were most likely to have implemented technology for AI (50%), productivity or collaboration (41%), or communication (34%).
  • 75% believe the changes and improvements made to their business in 2023 will pay off throughout 2024.

Rising concerns and top worries for small business owners 

  • While 71% of respondents report being optimistic about the state of their business this year, the economy, the upcoming election, and declining sales are key concerns. 
  • A third of small business owners (32%) are worried their business won’t survive through the end of 2024.
  • 38% of small business owners are more worried about their business as they enter 2024, compared to 2023 — while only 26% are less worried.
  • Top worries included inflation and economic conditions (47%), followed by the need to raise prices (32%) and an increase in competition (24%).
  • Small business owners are also worried about needing to update their technology without the budget to do so (16%), and feeling like the tech they use for their business is outdated (14%).

2024 will see an increased investment in productivity and collaboration tools  

  • Business owners are taking quick action to keep their businesses thriving. They are expanding marketing efforts to bring in new customers (51%), setting money aside for emergency use (45%), and exploring new technologies to increase productivity and efficiency (43%). 
  • 60% of small business owners expect to increase their budget this year, with 50% planning to allocate that budget toward technology and infrastructure.
  • 35% are excited to implement new tech or update tech for their business in 2024 — and of those, 49% are planning to implement new productivity and collaboration tools, as well as other software tools (53%) — reflecting a clear inclination toward maximizing efficiency with limited resources.

Salesforce perspective: “The state of small businesses in 2024 reflects a clear desire to maximize efficiency with limited resources,” said Jaime DeLanghe, Vice President, Product Management, Slack. “Regardless of what sector the business is in, productivity and collaboration tools can be a key driver of businesses’ growth and productivity.” 

Regardless of what sector the business is in, productivity and collaboration tools can be a key driver of businesses’ growth and productivity. 

Jaime DeLanghe, Vice President, Product Management, Slack

About Slack: Slack, a Salesforce company, is the productivity platform that empowers everyone with no-code automation and AI, makes search and knowledge sharing seamless, and keeps teams connected and engaged. Teams that use Slack are 49% more productive and more than 90% of teams feel more connected using Slack. 

More information: 

  • Download and share these small business insights here  
  • Learn more about Slack for small business

Research methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 U.S. small business owners (businesses with 2,000 or fewer employees) — including 1,000 tech and retail business owners — was commissioned by Slack between Dec. 22, 2023 and Jan. 8, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).


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