Small Business Survey: Third Quarter 2013

  • Highlights

    Business Conditions

    Small business expectations for growth in the coming 12 months remained essentially unchanged from the first quarter of 2013. However, reports of actual sales, hiring, and capital expenditures over the prior 12 months improved significantly. Reports of increases in activity were broad based across industry. All industries reported stronger sales growth over the past year. Only firms in the construction and real estate industries reported slower year-over-year employment and capital expenditures growth.

    Financing Conditions

    Demand for credit changed little from the first quarter of 2013. One-third applied for credit and two-thirds did not. Of those not applying for credit, one-quarter indicated they did not because they feared they would be turned down or offered bad credit terms. These discouraged borrowers were disproportionally young and tended to have weak past sales.

    Credit obtainment improved in the third quarter. Forty-two percent of applying firms received the full amount requested compared to 28 percent of firms in the first quarter of 2013. The improvement in financing satisfaction occurred across industry, firm age, and measures of recent business performance.


    The results in this report are often presented according to young and mature firms. We distinguish young from mature by the age of the business. We consider firms less than six years old to be young. We define a small business as a business with fewer than 500 employees.

  • Business Conditions

    Past Business
    Construction &
    Real Estate

    The third-quarter survey results indicate essentially no change in the expectations of small firms. The net percent that expect sales to rise over the next 12 months increased slightly and the net percent that expect employees to increase decreased slightly, but neither difference was statistically significant. As has been the case in past surveys, young firms forecasted higher growth than did mature firms. Nearly all young firms (91 percent) expect sales to increase compared to two-thirds of mature firms.

  • Financing Conditions

    Sources of
    Young vs.
    Mature Firms

    As in past surveys, about one-third of businesses applied for credit in the third quarter of 2013. Most businesses said they were borrowing to support their cash flow needs. However, a large portion said they were borrowing to expand their business or to make capital investments.

    Two-thirds of businesses did not apply for credit. Sixteen percent of all participants were discouraged from applying and 43 percent did not need credit. Those discouraged were more likely to have had declining sales in the past 12 months. Of discouraged borrowers, 43 percent had sales decrease in the past 12 months compared to 32 percent of other firms.

  • Methodology


    The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conducts a semiannual survey of small business contacts in the Southeast to get their perspective on general business and financing conditions. The Atlanta Fed conducted the third-quarter 2013 survey during the first three weeks of October. The survey was completed by 471 respondents. The questionnaire for this survey, which varies slightly each time, is available.

    About 66 percent of respondents had fewer than 10 employees and revenues of less than $1 million. The median firm is 15 years old.

  • Facilitators

    The following organizations helped disseminate the third-quarter 2013 survey:


    • Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce
    • Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Shoals Economic Development Authority
    • Southern Minority Business District Council
    • University of Alabama


    • Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida
    • Broward County
    • Capital Banking Solutions
    • Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral
    • City of Tampa, Tampa City Council, District 7
    • City of North Port
    • Florida Alliance of CDCs
    • Florida Coalition for Micro Enterprise Development
    • Florida Community Development Association
    • Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
    • Florida First Capital Finance Corporation
    • Florida Prosperity Partnership
    • GDKN Corporation
    • Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
    • Gulf Coast Business Finance
    • Manatee Community Federal Credit Union
    • Miami Dade SCORE
    • Southern Florida Minority Supplier Development Council
    • Space Coast Economic Development Commission
    • SunBiz Showcase Alliance
    • Sun Coast Community Capital
    • University of North Florida Small Business Development Corporation
    • Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce


    • Carroll County Chamber of Commerce
    • DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
    • Edge Connection, Kennesaw State University
    • Fayette Chamber of Commerce
    • Georgia Power
    • Metro Atlanta Chamber
    • Paulding Chamber of Commerce


    • Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce
    • New Orleans Business Alliance
    • Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
    • The Olinger Group


    • Southern Rural Development Center


    • Entrepreneur Center, Chattanooga
    • Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber of Commerce
    • Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Knoxville Chamber
    • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Pathway Lending
    • Wayne County Chamber of Commerce

    District Wide

    • Association for Enterprise Opportunity