Analysis offers insights on evolving needs, challenges and opportunities facing small business owners; findings based on 350 small businesses in Genesee County
Diversifying Genesee County’s economy by creating an entrepreneurial support system that fosters networks and cultivates strong leaders will be critical to the region’s long-term sustainability, according to a new report released today by the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance.
The 2021 Genesee County Small Business Analysis also found that area small businesses owners believe that improving access to capital or providing direct financial support is the best way for policymakers and economic development organizations to help locally owned and operated enterprises succeed. Additionally, increasing the visibility of Flint & Genesee businesses through target marketing or “shop local” initiatives is viewed as an effective and efficient way to build a resilient and vibrant local business community.
“We are focused on reducing obstacles for small business owners to be successful while clearing a pathway for the development of new and innovative local industries,” said Tyler Rossmaessler, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance. “From these findings, we can determine the resources and strategies to aid current and future local small business owners and strengthen our local economy.”
The report’s findings are based on the input of 350 small businesses that responded to the Genesee County Small Business Landscape Survey, conducted earlier this year by Ann Arbor-based research firm EntryPoint. Respondents completed a 7-minute questionnaire designed to gauge the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the local marketplace. EntryPoint also integrated economic and business data from other sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and CB Insights, and conducted interviews with several respondents for more detailed knowledge of the county’s small business community, which consists of more than 3,000 businesses.
As defined by EntryPoint for this research, small businesses are all registered businesses in Genesee County with 25 full-time employees or fewer and less than $10 million in average annual revenue. Small businesses are spread throughout the county with the highest concentration of businesses in larger communities, such as Flint, Grand Blanc and Fenton.
“Research helps economic development organizations and nonprofits gain a deeper understanding of the evolving needs, challenges and opportunities facing small business owners,” said Emily Heintz, founder and managing director of EntryPoint. “By focusing on the lived experiences of small business owners, we can create a strong foundation of knowledge, resulting in impactful and equitable outcomes that foster inclusive and vibrant communities.”
Key Findings from the 2021 Genesee County Small Business Analysis
- Businesses in the professional services (31%), food and beverage (17%), and retail (13%) sectors are the most prominent, followed by art, entertainment and recreation, and nonprofits.
- 83 percent of BIPOC-owned (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) businesses in Genesee County are less than 15 years old. Over half of these companies are in their first five years of business.
- 29 percent of small business owners in Genesee County reported having difficulty obtaining outside funding because they did not have access to the necessary network of individuals or organizations who might invest in their companies.
- 75 percent of small business owners anticipate needing additional outside funding for their businesses to continue operating successfully. Small businesses in Genesee County hope to obtain over $180 million in outside funding over the next 18 months; on average, this is 3x what they have acquired in the past.
- Prior to the pandemic, the most common sources of capital historically accessed by small businesses in Genesee County were friends and family, high net-worth individuals, and foundation/corporate grants.
- Net income for personal care businesses was down 100 percent in 2020 – the largest decrease in income of any sector followed by businesses in the art, entertainment and recreation, and construction sectors.
- 61 percent of small businesses across Genesee County believe the best way for policy and economic development organizations to support their companies is to increase access to capital or provide financial support directly.
About Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance
The Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, a division of the Flint & Genesee Group, is the lead economic development organization for Genesee County, Michigan. To build a more vibrant local economy, the Economic Alliance provides tools, resources and guidance to local companies of all sizes and stages to support their growth. The organization also promotes available sites, workforce and unique assets to attract growth-oriented businesses to Genesee County.
EntryPoint is a nonprofit research institution that aims to promote entrepreneurship across the Midwest. The organization believes that the best research takes a holistic approach to data acquisition and analysis, and as such, seeks to build meaningful partnerships with corporations, community foundations, entrepreneurial support organizations, and other groups. Working in tandem with these partners, EntryPoint develops comprehensive research reports that deliver insights on strengths and challenges facing companies, communities, and the broader region. Research findings are used to design and implement effective programs to promote entrepreneurship by fostering an inclusive culture, expanding networks, and facilitating education and advocacy. EntryPoint is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more, visit www.entrypointmi.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at @EntryPointMI.