What are the leading small business trends of 2023? From inflation to supply-chain issues to employee retention, small businesses have been up against a number of challenges.
To learn how companies are adapting to this changing landscape, BILL partnered with SMB Group to survey 750 finance leaders at small-to-midsize US businesses (SMB) with 50 to 500 employees, polling their insights on the economy, workforce, and finance automation technologies.
Based on the survey results, we’ve identified 5 small business trends that are affecting small-to-midsize businesses across major industries. To see more survey results, including strategies and future insights for SMBs, download the full 2023 State of Finance Automation report.
Small business trend #1: The SMB workplace continues to evolve
As the pandemic recedes, the SMB workplace continues to evolve. Companies are working to balance encouraging employees to return to the office with the work-from-home arrangements many employees are used to (and, in some cases, prefer).
According to the survey, about half of SMB employees are working only at company locations, while about one-quarter work remotely and one-quarter work in a hybrid model.
Per survey results, SMBs expect the number of employees working in a hybrid model to increase.
Small business trend #2: Remote work introduces new challenges to financial management
Despite their popularity and benefits, remote and hybrid work models have created complications for financial management. About two-thirds of the SMBs surveyed indicated that managing a remote or hybrid workforce introduced new challenges.
Respondents noted complications in measuring productivity, heightened security concerns, and difficulties in setting performance evaluation standards as their top three challenges. Collaboration and teamwork concerns followed closely behind.
Small business trend #3: SMBs are feeling the talent crunch
More than three-quarters of respondents agreed that they’re facing difficulties finding and hiring qualified finance professionals—and almost half strongly agreed with this statement.
About two-thirds agreed it’s hard to retain their staff, and that finance people work too many hours and are burned out. About one-third of respondents strongly agreed with both of these statements.
The talent crunch is taking a tougher toll on smaller businesses: respondents in companies with 50-99 employees were almost twice as likely to strongly agree that “It is hard for us to retain our finance people” than peers in larger businesses. They are also somewhat more likely to agree that “It is difficult for us to find and hire qualified finance professionals” than peers in larger businesses.
This situation may be exacerbated as fewer college graduates are pursuing degrees in accounting and other financial management areas.
Small business trend #4: SMB financial professionals are being asked to do more
Even as it becomes more difficult to hire and retain financial staff, employees are being asked to do more. Respondents indicated that the skills required of finance professionals are expanding to encompass stronger business, analytical, and technology skills.
More than three-quarters of respondents agreed with several statements that affirm that financial professionals and finance teams are:
- Being tasked with more strategic and analytical functions
- Taking on responsibilities for decision-making in other departments, and in corporate planning
- Required to have more technology expertise, and are gaining more responsibility for making decisions about technology investments
With more responsibilities piling up, it’s essential for finance teams to leverage technology to simplify repetitive tasks so they can focus on larger initiatives.
Small business trend #5: SMBs are looking to finance automation to address current pain points
These challenges and shifts in strategic responsibilities are accelerating SMB interest in—and adoption of—finance automation solutions.
Respondents clearly understand the increasingly vital roles that technology and automation play to improve financial management efficiency and provide insights to make better business decisions.
More than 80% of respondents agreed that automation plays a critical role in managing financials on a day-to-day basis—such as improving business efficiency and managing cash flow—and that financial management automation solutions can help them to achieve more strategic goals, such as improving business insights and attracting and retaining qualified talent.
Almost half strongly agreed with these sentiments.
How are companies responding to the small business trends of 2023?
BILL’s State of Finance Automation market survey, conducted by SMB Group, examines trends in SMB financial management automation in detail.
The full report discusses key trends and challenges that SMB financial professionals are facing and how they are impacting their businesses and financial management practices. It also delves into how SMBs are automating financial functions today and their plans for the future.
To see these results, download the complete 2023 State of Finance Automation report.