Oct 12, 2023 - News

Survey: California small-business owners more optimistic

Photo of a worker in a succulent shop filled with green plants and leaves

A manager at small-business store Succulence in San Francisco maintains the plants in 2020 during the pandemic. Photo: Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Despite lingering challenges from the pandemic, small-business owners in California are more likely to say their business is successful and that they are optimistic about the future compared to overall U.S. small-business owners, a new U.S. Bank survey finds.

Driving the news: About a third of California small-business owners reported experiencing negative emotions related to their business — versus 46% for U.S. small-business owners.

  • Business owners in the Bay Area are less likely to feel more stressed now than compared to a year ago, the report notes.

Yes, but: San Francisco's 2022 Small Business Survey on Economic Recovery found that many small businesses face technical and language barriers to accessing tax credits, financial assistance and bookkeeping.

  • Only 16% of businesses reported applying for the employee retention tax credit, which offers up to $26,000 for every employee retained through COVID-19.
  • The city's report also noted that for small businesses, the top three challenges are "an increase in the costs of goods sold, dirty and smelly streets, and lack of customers."

Of note: Public safety remains an ongoing concern for businesses in the Bay. One-third of businesses surveyed by San Francisco said they were victims of crime between two and 10 times in the past year.

The big picture: In San Francisco, as in other metro areas across the U.S., revenues for small businesses shrank with the onset of the pandemic, and many have fewer employees now than they did pre-pandemic, according to the city's report.

  • San Francisco's Small Business Commission has recommended eliminating some city fees and taxes and boosting sidewalk cleaning initiatives to encourage foot traffic, among other things.

What we're watching: San Francisco's new Vacant to Vibrant program launched this month. It's aimed at revitalizing downtown by filling vacant storefronts with pop-ups, including bakeries, apparel brands and more.

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