Small Business Finances

August 2011

Key Findings
May 2011 Small Business Borrowers Poll: Summary
Restoring health to the small business sector, and the credit necessary to support its recovery, are continuing concerns. While recent surveys indicate an easing of underwriting criteria, data also show a 10 percent decline in small business lending between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011. The extent to which this drop is due to weak demand, impaired creditworthiness, or other factors is still under discussion.

The New York Feds Small Business Borrowers Poll takes a fresh look at borrower demand by asking firms not only about credit applications but also about reasons for not seeking credit. The results highlight the nuanced assessments that firms are making in formulating credit demands.

The poll finds that although 33 percent of firms sought credit and two-thirds were approved for a credit product, many firms chose not to apply because they were either paying down debt (19 percent), believed they would be turned down (27 percent) or already had sufficient credit (21 percent).

Credit applicants and firms with sufficient credit were similar in having larger revenues and sales increases in 2010 and in the first quarter of 2011. In contrast to these two groups are the 27 percent of the sample who did not apply because they believed they would be turned down. These discouraged borrowers attributed their decisions to concerns about low credit scores and insufficient collateral. A large majority of these firms reported flat or declining sales in the first quarter.

Nineteen percent of the sample did not apply because they were paying down debt. Their responses to questions about sales growth provide clues about why they prioritized deleveraging. Nearly equal portions of this group reported sales increases and sales declines, suggesting that some firms might be responding to broader economic concerns while others may be responding to weakened sales demand at their firms. Deleveraging firms tended to be smaller in revenues and employment.

Poll results also show that most firms rely on business earnings and personal/family wealth, but that credit use varies considerably across groups. Applicants and firms with sufficient financing frequently mentioned using lines of credit. In contrast, both deleveraging firms and discouraged borrowers are relying on credit cards.

The Small Business Borrowers Poll asks small businesses in the Second District about their business performance and financial and credit experiences. The poll is distributed through a network of civil and nonprofit partners. The poll represents the perspectives of smaller firms (typically fewer than 10 employees and under $5 million in annual revenues) who respond to the questionnaire.

In total, there were 876 poll respondents to the poll fielded in May 2011; however, it is important to note that the number of respondents to each individual question varied. The graphs featured on this page each identify the number of respondents (n=) for relevant questions. If the analysis required cross-tabulation of multiple questions, only firms which responded to all relevant questions were included.

Note: The poll is not a random sample and thus the information should not be interpreted as a statistical representation of small businesses in the Second District or the nation. Rather, the results should be viewed as suggestive and analyzed with awareness of potential methodological biases.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorks Office of Regional and Community Outreach polled small businesses about their business performance, financing choices, and borrowing experiences. The poll was conducted online and distributed through a network of local government and nonprofit partners.


Small Business Borrowers Poll Questions
Arts & Business Council
Binghamton Economic Development Office
Binghamton Local Development Corporation
Brockport Small Business Development Center
Broome county Economic Development Zone
Broome County Industrial Development Agency
Broome County Industrial Development Corporation
Business Outreach Center Network
Catskill Watershed Corporation
Community Capital Resources
Connecticut Business and Industry Association
Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce
Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation
Empire State Development
Fulton Area Business Alliance
Fulton Street BID
Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation
Kings County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Long Island City Economic Development Corporation
Manhattan Borough President's Office
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce
Minority Business Development Agency, US Chamber Of Commerce
Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Program
Newark Regional Business Partnership
New Jersey Business and Industry Association
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
New York City Council
New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
New York City Department of Small Business Services
New York Public Library
Niagara County
Niagara USA Chamber
NYC Business Solutions
Orange County Chamber of Commerce
Otsego Chamber of Commerce
Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Queens Borough President's Office
Queens Chamber of Commerce
Queens Economic Development Corporation
Rochester Business Alliance
Small Business Development Centers (NY)
Somerset County Business Partnership
Sunset Park Business Improvement District
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
Wayne County Business Council
Wayne County Economic Development
Westchester County Association
Williamson Chamber of Commerce
Women in Construction
Women Presidents' Organization
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