April is financial literacy month and with it comes a time for reflection and checking in on our financial savviness. Financial literacy not only helps small business owners to gain better control over their business finances, but it also helps them to scale up and organize themselves for accounting and tax purposes.
At vcita, we wanted to connect with our community of small businesses to gain a better understanding of their state of financial literacy. So, we released a Financial Literacy Survey asking our community questions about their financial status as well as their opinions on certain financial topics.
What we discovered was both interesting and surprising to say the least..
- Close to 80% of respondents are going at their finances alone.
- 60.7% know and understand their cash flow.
- 54.3% don’t know their business credit score.
- 64% understand their business taxes.
- A majority of respondents have a business budget but only 40.3% admit to it being detailed.
- Almost all respondents admit that financial literacy is important.
About the survey
The survey included fourteen questions and ran for about two weeks in the month of April. Respondents came from across the globe, with a majority located in the US, however, their common denominator being the fact that they were all small business owners.
We had 326 responses to the survey, giving us a nice view into the state of matters when it comes to small business’ financial literacy, and the bottom line is: our small business community is quite savvy at their finances.
Small business owners are tackling their own finances
One of the major conclusions we’ve reached as a result of the survey indicates that small business owners are mostly going at their finances on their own. An overwhelming 77.9% admit they don’t receive any help with their finances, with 22% claiming they have hired a financial advisor. What’s even more interesting is that 41.3% don’t believe they need a financial advisor. This shows us that providing tools and resources that aid small business owners in handling their own finances is a critical element of supporting small business growth.
In addition, small business owners have set themselves up to handle their own finances, with 54% having a business savings account and depositing money into it monthly. They are taking care of their own finances and saving up for future expenses, which puts them in a great position to succeed.
They’re in debt but working on it
Contrary to what we believed, this survey presented another interesting finding: small business owners are competent at understanding their cash flow. Just over 60% know what money is coming in and going out and can assess their expenses month over month. Understanding cash flow is one of the most important skills for a small business owner to master and it’s refreshing to see that they are actively practicing this skill.
Though they are able to understand their cash flow, nearly half of respondents admit that their business is in debt (45.8%). It’s important to note that this debt is manageable for them as they are working to get out of it, however 9.6% claim they are unable to cover expenses. This minority indicates that though many are in debt, only a small percentage are in over their heads and would need access to the proper funding in order to help them get out of it.
They’re not good with business credit
Perhaps one of the more troublesome aspects of running a business is keeping up with the business credit score. Over half of respondents (54%) admit they don’t know their business credit score, leaving them in the dark when it comes to attaining funding, scaling their business, and planning expenses and budgets.
However not knowing their business credit score isn’t preventing them from using up credit lines and accruing credit for their business. A majority of respondents in the survey, 53.4%, have between 1-2 business credit cards and use them for their business expenses. Using this credit enables them to improve their credit score, and considering the low levels of debt described in the previous section, it’s safe to assume that they are able to pay off their credit card debt.
They’re apt at business taxes
The subject of taxes often plagues the individual, let alone the small business owner. However, this survey brought about some insights about small business taxes. Where we thought reading and understanding a tax return might be a challenge, 64% of respondents are able to read it and even find errors to correct. This large number shows that small business owners are involved and take a significant part in their tax processes.
When asked how well they can understand their business taxes, 172 respondents, just over half, feel they have a good grasp of it. As with cash flow and knowing how to read and maintain certain business statements (cash flow statements, balance sheets, etc.), taxes are a large part of financial literacy and it seems that small business owners are prioritizing these aspects.
They are well-equipped to secure their financial future
When assessing their preparedness for a sustainable business well into the future, we asked about their business budgets, assets and goals.
Being able to budget for their business allows small business owners to properly allocate funds and plan for the future. Seventy two and a half percent of respondents have some sort of budget for their business, showing how important it is to them to keep track of their finances. Although a large percentage have a budget, only 40.3% admit it is detailed and they refer to it often. This shows a great opportunity in the market for budgeting tools that support small businesses in their efforts to more easily track their finances and stick to their budgets.
When asked about the assets they have, most have a business checking and savings account, however many also have assets such as investments, credit cards, a retirement plan and more. This spread of assets depicts a responsible small business owner looking towards a secure financial future.
Finally, when considering their future, we wanted to know about their business goals. Fifty five percent of respondents have both long and short term goals for their business and are actively working towards attaining them. Though this number should be higher, it is still over half, with the other half spread between having short term goals or long term goals alone.
The importance of financial literacy is evident
This Financial Literacy Survey taught us many important lessons about small business owners. Mainly, they are doing well for themselves and handling their own business finances. Though they could always improve, especially in the business credit score sector, it is evident that they are making financial literacy a priority.
When asked about their attitude towards financial literacy, 97.2% admitted that they know it’s important, however, 68% admit they are actively working on it. We have to wonder, based on the results of this survey, if that’s true. Perhaps many of them don’t understand that the measures they are already taking to ensure their financial security are also steps to increasing their financial literacy.
A main observation here is that there is no shortage of opportunity in the small business market for tools that will make financial literacy more accessible in small business’ daily operations. Tools like vcita, that help track their finances, create important financial documents, give insights based on their finances that help them make smarter business decisions and more, creates a profitable business model that small businesses will want to engage with.