New Hampshire small business owners gaining confidence, but still leery

In SBDC survey, many report financial improvements, but supply chain, workforce issues remain concerns
Liz Gray

Liz Gray, state director of the Small Business Development Center

Financial situations are improving for many New Hampshire small business owners, and they are becoming more optimistic – but not overwhelmingly confident, about their prospects for the future – but they’re still not overwhelmingly confident, according to the NH Small Business Development Center’s third and last Business Resiliency Survey.

According to the survey, which was launched as a three-part project in June 2020 at the depths of the pandemic-fueled economic collapse, Granite State business owners are more confident about their financial outlook, although there are still nagging concerns. For instance, in June 2020, more than four in five respondents reported their monthly revenue had decreased as a result of the pandemic. In the most recent survey, conducted from Sept. 15 to Oct. 11, 2021, just over half reported that their revenue had been negatively affected. However, nearly one in five said their revenue has increased. But, in an effort to control costs, one-quarter reported that their owners were working without a salary.

When asked how they expect New Hampshire businesses will do in the upcoming year, 33 percent of respondents said the state’s businesses will enjoy good times financially, 10 percent said they think they will experience bad times, and 56 percent anticipated mixed conditions.

Supply chain issues have risen to the top of major concerns, according to the survey with two-thirds of respondents reporting being affected a lot or some by related problems in 2021. More than half said they have been affected by increased costs of goods and delays in sourcing from domestic suppliers while four in 10 said they’ve been affected by higher domestic shipping costs.

Besides the supply chain, another significant concern remains recruitment and retention of workforce. Nearly half of respondents said they currently have the same number of employees as they did in February 2020, while three in eight reported having fewer. The businesses are managing staffing recruitment and retention challenges by reducing open hours, allowing remote work, increasing efficiency or automation, or by offering increased compensation and one-time bonuses, according to the survey.

“The survey results presented incredibly valuable insights into the challenges businesses faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and the data aided us in determining the best ways to help businesses,” said Liz Gray, state director of the NH SBDC. She said that, “based on the success of the three Resiliency Surveys conducted,” the organization is “strongly considering a similar follow-on survey with partners in 2022 so that we can all continue learning from and supporting New Hampshire’s businesses.”

Some 1,057 respondents in 165 cities and towns took in the most recent survey. To see abridged results of the survey, visit To request a full report, email h.edwardsdunn@unh.

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