Small Business Report 2024

We have taken the pulse of small businesses to gain insights on hiring challenges, business growth, people management, and the potential lasting effects of the Great Resignation.

Table of contents

Wizehire's report examined the viewpoints of 1,000 small business owners (83%) and operators (17%). These small outfits range from 10 to 200 employees.

Most enterprises we evaluated (33%) have a team size of 10 to 20 employees. The small business statistics Wizehire gathered offer a glimpse into the evolving landscape of growing businesses in 2024.

Small Businesses Are Optimistic

While successes and setbacks mark every small business owner’s journey, our report reveals that 73% are satisfied with their careers. The point drives home one of the top benefits of being an entrepreneur.

Among those content with their journey, 33% admit to some regrets but are happy with their careers, while 17% revealed that owning a business had always been a lifelong dream.

However, as is often the case, challenges persist in all aspects of running a small business.

Although Wizehire’s report indicates that the Great Resignation, which affects staffing and retention, may be winding down, small businesses still face hurdles impacting hiring and growth. Despite these challenges, enterprises are focusing on creating positive workplace cultures, including initiatives for diversity and inclusion.

Have you ever wished you had pursued a different career path instead of owning a small business?

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Small Businesses Forecast Growth for 2024

Federal reports expect job growth and the economy to be sluggish in 2024, but small businesses plan to expand.

We asked employers if they were hiring within the next six months, and an overwhelming majority (96%) said yes. 

Zeroing in on the data paints an even more confident picture, with 80% looking for full-time hires and 50% seeking part-timers. Contractors and freelance workers will also feel the positive impacts, with 30% of respondents sharing that’s how they will fill open roles.

If you're hiring within the next 6 months, what roles are you looking to fill?
Full-time positions 80%
Part-time positions 50%
Contract/freelance workers 30%
Internship or apprenticeships 20%
Outside agency or agencies 11%
I am not hiring within the next 6 months 4%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

Small business employees also have a reason to celebrate, as 84% of enterprises are very likely or somewhat likely to give out raises this year.

How likely are you to give raises to your current employees within the next year?

Snapshot of Small Business Performance

Although small businesses plan to hire, many enterprises face challenges with stability and growth due to the impact of inflation on spending, with 30% reporting uncertainty about the economy and consumer spending.

While market competition is the foundation of a healthy U.S. economy (1), increasing market competition is another hurdle for 41% of enterprises surveyed.

On the bright side, 62% reported growth over the past year. Conversely, less than 1.5% of small businesses struggle to stay afloat. A mere 9% noted a decline, but another 8% mentioned their business did experience a decline but is now rebounding.

What factors contribute to the growth of many small businesses? Their size, nimbleness, and adaptability can allow them to thrive in niche or local markets. Customer obsession (2) is the key to success here, making them the focal point of your business operations. This approach enables small businesses to be responsive to changing needs and circumstances.

And it adds up. Small businesses are the backbone of job creation, employing almost half of the private sector workers and contributing to 62.7% of the net jobs since 1995 (3).

Have you experienced any changes in your business’ performance in the last year? (e.g. growth, decline)
Yes, we have experienced growth in our business 62%
There has been no significant changes in our business performance 20%
Unfortunately, we have seen a decline in our business 9%
We experienced a decrease initially but have recovered since then 8%
Our business has been struggling to stay afloat 1%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

Recruiting Obstacles Facing Small Businesses

One of the biggest obstacles is attracting top talent, with 43% of enterprises reporting difficulties and 41% citing increasing competition for highly qualified hires.

Once talent is acquired, retaining employees is another sizable concern for 35%, affecting the smooth functioning of businesses.

Alongside these primary challenges, secondary obstacles emerge. Thirty-four percent of respondents noted that limited resources for employee training are particularly concerning—possibly restricting the development and upskilling of new and existing staff. Funding to deal with increasing wages and inflation is also a problem (30%), with one respondent sharing, “People are seeking the highest salary even for non-high-paying jobs.”

Other small business challenges are the need for more qualified candidates (29%) and the waste of resources from candidate ghosting (24%). These issues add unexpected complexity to the hiring process, possibly slowing business growth.

In your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles that small businesses face when it comes to growth and hiring?
Difficulty attracting top talent 43%
Increasing competition in the market 41%
Challenges with retaining employees 35%
Limited resources for training and developement 34%
Uncertainty about the economy and consumer spending 30%
Funding to deal with increasing wages and inflation 30%
Lack of qualified candidates 29%
Candidate ghosting 24%
Job seekers are not interested in our open roles 18%
Difficulty adapting to changing market trends and consumer preferences 17%
Regulatory hurdles and red tape 17%
Other 1%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

How Small Businesses Are Addressing Hiring Challenges

Our findings shed light on effective small business recruitment practices. Surprisingly, a majority (49%) rely on employee referrals from their internal teams as their primary method of recruiting and hiring new talent. This practice speaks volumes about the importance of employee networks and the trust placed in these recommendations within smaller organizations.

Additionally, job boards emerge as a highly effective tool for nearly half (45%) of small businesses, slightly surpassing the effectiveness of their business career pages (44%). These numbers highlight the continued relevance of online platforms in the recruitment landscape, even for smaller enterprises.

How do you typically recruit and hire new employees?
Referrals from current employees 49%
Job boards (such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, and others) 45%
Social media sites like Facebook, X, and Instagram 44%
Your business’ career page 44%
LinkedIn 40%
Recruitment agencies 34%
Job fairs or career events 31%
Local advertising (newspapers, local job sites like Built In, or classifieds) 28%
Referrals from professional networking connections 23%
Direct outreach to qualified candidates 20%
Hiring from an internal internship program 17%
Craigslist 12%
We use an online HR tool or platform to source, evaluate, and hire candidates 3%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

When onboarding new hires, a significant portion of small businesses (44%) leverage a dedicated Human Resource (HR) department. Furthermore, 27% have at least one dedicated HR staff member. These figures highlight how small businesses use structured HR processes for successful employee hiring, onboarding, and continued engagement.

Do you have a dedicated Human Resource (HR) department or HR person in your small business? If not, who handles HR tasks?
Yes, we have a dedicated HR department 44%
Yes, we have a designated HR staff member 27%
No, our management team handles HR tasks 15%
No, the owner or CEO manages all HR tasks 7%
No, we outsource HR tasks to a third-part company 2%
No, our employees take turns handling HR responsibilities 1%
No, our accounting department also handles HR duties 1%
No, our human resources functions are shared among all employees 1%
No, we do not have an HR department or anyone addressing HR issues at this time 1%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

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Digging into Hiring, Retention, and the Great Resignation

We dug deeper to gain more clarification about the state of small business hiring and employee retention.

While 36% expressed satisfaction with the quality of their job candidates, a significant 30% were satisfied but found identifying suitable applicants time-consuming. Additionally, 22% believe there's room for improvement regarding talent quality, highlighting the need for more strategic approaches in recruitment.

Are you satisfied with the quality of job candidates who apply for positions at your small business?
Yes, I am very satisfied 36%
Yes, but it takes a lot of time and effort to find them 30%
Somewhat happy, there is room for improvement 22%
Not always; certain positions are harder to fill 8%
No, I have a hard time finding qualified candidates 3.5%
No, I have to settle for less-than-ideal candidates 0.5%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

While experts claim the Great Resignation ended in January 2024 (4), we sought confirmation from small businesses by asking whether they struggle with retaining employees.

Those who experienced high turnover were split, with 25% sharing that it impacts their business and 25% sharing that while they do have turnover, they can fill those positions quickly. It is important to note that most of those surveyed identified themselves as being in the retail (18%), food service (14%), or home service (13%) industries, which are known for their high turnover rates.

On the upside, 28% of those surveyed, the majority, shared they have a good employee retention track record. While this statistic doesn’t confirm the experts' view, it suggests the great resignation may be slowing down for small businesses.

Do you struggle with retaining employees in your small business?

Top Benefits and Perks Offered by Small Businesses

Small businesses can boost their overall employee value proposition by offering perks and benefits to attract top talent. Health insurance (66%), paid time off (61%), and flexible work scheduling (50%) top the list of multiple choices small businesses offer.

Among the least offered benefits is childcare (12%). The Women in Leadership Report by Wizehire emphasizes that balancing work and family responsibilities is a significant obstacle for women seeking career advancement. Adopting this benefit can help small businesses secure the best candidates by supporting work-life balance, productivity, and inclusivity.

What employee benefits or perks do you currently offer in your small business?
Health Insurance 66%
Paid time off 61%
Flexible work scheduling 50%
Retirement plans 33%
Flexible pay 31%
Remote work options 29%
Upskilling and reskilling opportunities 28%
Discount programs 19%
Free transportation 15%
Gym benefits 13%
Childcare 12%
Transit stipends 10%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

Small Businesses Are Building Inclusive Company Cultures

While many large companies are reducing their diversity, equity, and inclusive (DEI) efforts, small businesses are bucking the trend. Eighty-eight percent consider DEI extremely or moderately important.

Furthermore, 46% have taken proactive steps to implement employee diversity training. In addition, 45% have a diverse leadership team that actively promotes individuals from diverse backgrounds to higher positions. Moreover, nearly 40% of businesses regularly host open discussions and listen to employee feedback on diversity and inclusivity matters.

We explored how small businesses are generally perceived in the US based on the above. Pew Research Center (5) revealed that small enterprises appeal more to the general public than larger corporations. A resounding eight out of ten adults acknowledge the positive impact of small businesses on the country, with only 18% expressing a negative perception. Their efforts to create more inclusive workplaces are likely one of many reasons for this perception.

“When small businesses step up for DEI efforts, they can inspire larger corporations to follow suit.”

- Shivani Puri, Wizehire VP of People Operations

What efforts have you taken to promote diversity and inclusivity among your employees?
We have implemented diversity training for our employees 46%
We have a diverse leadership team and make efforts to promote diverse individuals to higher positions 45%
We regularly have open discussions and listen to feedback from our employees on diversity and inclusivity 35%
We provide resources and support for diverse employee groups within our company 34%
Our company values and promotes a culture of inclusivity and acceptance 31%
We make efforts to partner with diverse businesses and suppliers 25%
We have implemented diversity hiring goals and track our progress toward them 20%
My company does not promote diversity and inclusivity 5%
Other 1%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

Small Businesses Embrace Core Values

Core values and mission statements play a significant role in shaping company cultures. They inform how employees interact with each other and clients while driving decision-making processes. Nearly 38% of small businesses shared that their core values and mission statements shape everything they do internally and externally.

In contrast, 23% say their workplace culture is fluid and constantly evolving, so they don't have a set list of values or a mission statement. And we get that. Small businesses in their early stages are still finding their footing in this area.

Does your small business have core values or a mission statement shaping its workplace culture?
Yes, our core values and mission statement shape everything we do internally and externally 38%
Our workplace culture is fluid and constantly evolving, so we don't have a set list of values or a mission statement 23%
We are currently working on our core values and mission statement for our workplace culture 21%
While we don't have a formal mission statement, we promote an inclusive workplace culture 13%
No, we do not have core values or a mission statement 5%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

How Do Small Businesses Handle Conflicts and Disputes?

The bottom line is that having procedures, training, values, and an HR team in place creates more harmonious workplaces. Ninety-eight percent of those surveyed agree with either one or multiple processes established.

Nearly 50% of small businesses have an HR team to handle employee conflicts, and 48% actively promote a culture of respect and professionalism. This not only helps avoid disputes but also inspires a positive work environment.

Furthermore, (42%) shared that they have a code of conduct that outlines steps for resolving conflicts, while (36%) encourage employees to reach a mutual agreement. Additionally, (32%) provide employees with conflict resolution and interpersonal skills training, further enhancing workplace harmony and collaboration.

How do you handle conflicts and disputes between employees in your business?
We have a formal HR process for resolving conflicts 49%
We promote a culture of respect and professionalism in our workplace 48%
Our code of conduct outlines steps for resolving conflicts between employees 42%
We encourage employees to come to a mutual agreement 36%
We provide employees with training on conflict resolution and interpersonal skills 32%
We don't do anything 2%
Participants were allowed to select multiple options.

Wize Words

At Wizehire, we understand small and growing businesses' challenges when hiring the right talent. That's why we're dedicated to empowering you to hire more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Our platform is designed for your needs, offering expert coaching, intuitive tools, and an easy-to-use interface. Whether you're a seasoned HR professional, business leader, or new to the hiring game, we're here to support you every step of the way. Get started now.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Pollfish. The total sample size was 1,000 adults in the US who own (86%) or are responsible for running a small business (14%). The survey was carried out online between April 3, 2024, and April 15, 2024.