Small-business owners’ optimism edged up during the past three months, according to the third quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey. Conducted between July 8-12, 2019, the overall index is +136, up from the +129 recorded in Quarter 2. The index is a measure of owners’ present and future optimism — both of which saw upticks this quarter. (For more information about the findings from the this quarter’s Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, click here.)

Index highlights

58% | Percentage of small business owners who say their revenues increased in the past 12 months (up six percentage points from Quarter 2)
64% | Percentage of owners who say they expect revenues to increase in the future (up six percentage points from Quarter 2)
79% | Percentage of owners who say they are more optimistic than pessimistic (up from 70% in Quarter 2.)

Current state of the national economy

70% | Percentage of small business owners who now think the U.S. economy is excellent or good (up seven percentage points from Quarter 2).
10% | Percentage of owners who feel the economy is currently fair or poor.

Impact of Trade and Tariffs

33% | Percentage of surveyed owners who who say trade and tariff situations will have very little or no impact on their specific business.
23% | Percentage of surveyed owners who say their business has international customers.

Challenges Facing Small-Business Owners

In a shift from recent surveys in which owners have ranked finding and retaining qualified employees as their top challenge, here are the top challenges in this quarter’s index.

16% | Attracting customers and new business
10% | Availability of products (and the ability to improve them)
10% | Competition from larger companies and online retailers
8% | Challenge of being one’s own boss

Top Takeaways

  • Small-business owners remain upbeat about their company’s’ financial outlook.
  • They remain upbeat about the overall national economy.
  • Relatively few say trade and tariffs are affecting their business directly.
  • They remain concerned about core business basics like attracting customers, developing new products and fending off competitors.


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