One-third of small business owners worried their company won't survive 2024

Survey finds 2024 is a 'make-or-break' year for US small business owners

A significant chunk of U.S. small business owners say 2024 is a "make-or-break" year for them, according to fresh data that found nearly one in three are concerned their companies might not make it through the year.

Slack released the results of a recent survey of small business owners Thursday that found nearly one-third (32%) of respondents are worried their business will not survive through the end of the year and 38% saying they are more concerned about their company heading into this year than last.

Small business closes in Queens, New York

A sign inside a small business door in New York City. Nearly one-third of U.S. small business owners are concerned about their company making it through 2024. (Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

While 71% of the 2,000 entrepreneurs polled said they are optimistic about the state of their businesses, the top concerns they cited were inflation and economic conditions (47%), the need to raise prices (32%) and increased competition (24%).

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"The margin for success is often razor thin, meaning small businesses need to be forward-looking, resilient and adaptable even amid current economic climate challenges," said Jaime DeLanghe, senior principal of product management at Slack. 

"While our survey found most performed better than expected in 2023 and are optimistic about 2024, it shows many are still looking for ways to improve results despite limited resources and technological capacity." 

man looking at financials

Just under half of business owners said their companies performed better than they expected last year, and 71% said they are optimistic in their outlook for 2024. (iStock / iStock)

The survey also found that technology, including artificial intelligence, helped many small businesses exceed their owners' expectations.

Nearly half (49%) said their companies performed better than they expected, while one in five (21%) said their companies fared worse.

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More than a quarter (26%) of the owners surveyed said they used new technology in 2023. Of those, AI was the top new tool cited (50%), followed by tech for productivity or collaboration (41%) and communication (34%).

slack

A bicyclist cycles past a Slack logo outside its headquarters Dec. 1, 2020, in San Francisco. Slack is owned by cloud-based enterprise software company Salesforce. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Salesforce, Inc.

More than one-third (35%) of respondents said they are excited to add or update new tech tools to their operations this year, with more than half of those saying new software is on their purchase list for 2024.

The AI frenzy from last year is expected to carry through this year, too.

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"AI will continue to capture entrepreneurs' attention with its ability to enhance productivity and optimize the way we work," DeLanghe said. "Whether AI is used to surface insights faster, help summarize messages or eliminate tedious and repetitive tasks, it offers small businesses significant value by allowing them to focus on more complex projects and forge new customer relationships."

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