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Financial Strain Takes Toll on Small Businesses, Affecting Customers

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Small Businesses Face Financial Strain, Impacting Customers

New data from Equifax Canada and a survey of small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners highlight the challenges and concerns faced by businesses. Cash flow management is a pressing issue for 64% of SMBs, with uncertainty about the upcoming holiday season contributing to their financial worries. Limited access to business financing is a struggle for 53% of SMBs, while 18% have experienced past bankruptcy or insolvency, indicating their financial difficulties. Rising interest rates have led to pricing increases for 75% of businesses, with 69% believing these rates negatively impact their operations. Additionally, staffing issues and customer payment delays are further challenges faced by SMBs.

Confidence in the Economy and Holiday Season

SMB owners express low confidence in the economy, with only 10% reporting increased confidence for Q4 2023 compared to the previous year. Similarly, optimism about the holiday season is low, with only 15% expressing increased optimism compared to the previous year. These figures indicate a decline in confidence and highlight the ongoing challenges faced by small businesses.

Financial Landscape and Credit Trends

Equifax Canada's data reveals that established businesses are experiencing higher trade growth compared to new businesses. Average business debt has surged by 22.3% from a year ago, and industrial trade delinquencies are nearing pre-pandemic levels, suggesting potential financial challenges ahead. Government-backed loans have been crucial for many businesses, but concerns remain about debt repayments and the need for increased government support. Small business owners are increasingly aware of their financial profiles, but there is a knowledge gap when it comes to credit scores. While 58% recognize their ability to access business credit reports, only 36% of those familiar with these reports know their actual credit scores. Additionally, business owners anticipate significant changes due to artificial intelligence (AI), with expectations of reshaped competitive landscapes, alterations in service delivery models, and disruptions to business models. Equifax Canada continues to monitor the credit landscape closely, providing crucial data to support businesses and lenders in making informed credit decisions during these uncertain times.

Hot Take: Impact of Financial Strain on Small Businesses and the Role of AI

The financial strain faced by small businesses, as highlighted by recent data from Equifax Canada, presents a significant challenge for new businesses. Cash flow management, limited access to business financing, and rising interest rates are all contributing to a climate of financial uncertainty.

Declining Confidence and the Potential Impact on New Businesses

The low confidence expressed by SMB owners in the economy and the upcoming holiday season could potentially discourage new businesses. The decline in confidence underscores the ongoing challenges faced by small businesses and could deter aspiring entrepreneurs.

AI as a Potential Game-Changer

Interestingly, despite these financial challenges, small business owners anticipate significant changes due to artificial intelligence (AI). They expect AI to reshape competitive landscapes, alter service delivery models, and disrupt business models. This suggests that new businesses could leverage AI as a strategic tool to navigate financial challenges and gain a competitive edge. In conclusion, while the financial strain on small businesses presents significant challenges, the potential of AI offers a silver lining. New businesses could harness the power of AI to navigate these challenges and position themselves for success in the evolving business landscape.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/globe-newswire/small-businesses-grapple-with-financial-strain-impacting-customers
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