What We Learned from Our Small Business Survey

I wanted to start off this month’s blog post by thanking every one of you who took the time to answer our small business survey that we sent out in February.

I read and re-read every single response. Something that really stuck with me was how open everyone was about discussing their challenges and providing real feedback for how we could improve our coverage of business topics.

It speaks to the true generosity of spirit of the people who start and lead businesses and organizations in our community. I know that our whole team who works on the Art of Business newsletter found inspiration in your suggestions for stories and ways that we can provide resources that help you as a business person.

Through this survey, we learned how optimistic people are feeling about their businesses in 2024; how satisfied people feel about working in our region; the one business topic people want more help on; and more trends that give us a picture of the diverse needs of our business community.

We’re excited to share some of our results with you.

Two Takeaways That Surprised Us

Designing a survey requires you to make a lot of assumptions about your intended audience, but as we were reminded by several respondents, some of those are assumptions we didn’t even realize we made. 

  • We called our survey the Small Business Survey, but that language can actually feel exclusive to those at nonprofit organizations. Even though many nonprofits are businesses, the language of “small business” is mainly associated with the for-profit sector.

    Because our region is home to so many different types of businesses and organizations with different funding structures, it’s important for us to find ways to be inclusive to all of them in our language and to make sure we’re creating content that answers the questions of both for-profits and nonprofits.  

  • Historically, the majority of our magazine coverage has centered on the Hudson Valley, but over the years our print distribution, digital readership, and advertising partners have grown considerably outside to include the Catskills, Berkshires, and Capital Region.

    Several of our respondents highlighted that they were from regions outside the Hudson Valley. This tells us that we have more work to do on ensuring the language used across our publications does not accidentally exclude any of the communities that we are intending to speak to. 

Our Biggest Takeaway: You Want to Hear the Stories of Businesses and Organizations

22 percent of respondents who provided suggestions for how we could improve our Art of Business newsletter or coverage of business issues said they wanted to see more stories of local businesses. While that number may not seem like a lot on its face, that question on the survey didn’t have any multiple choice answers. That means that when asked to provide a direction for improvement, 20 percent of people came to the exact same conclusion all on their own. 

To our team, the answer for how to best improve our coverage of our region’s small business and organization landscape is to start telling more of their stories. 

Based on your feedback, we will be starting a new weekly editorial section on Chronogram.com this April devoted to highlighting the successes, strategies, and solutions of businesses and organizations in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires. We’ll be talking to people from teeny tiny one-person shops, non-profit organizations, multi-generational companies, and everything between. If you have an idea for a story about a business in our area, feel free to send me a note at [email protected]

Other Trends and Takeaways

There is a lot more data to dig into from our survey, so we’ve put together a series of charts that provide a look into the quantitative trends from our questions.

A thread that is common throughout these responses is the spread of experiences, challenges, and successes of the businesses and organizations throughout our region despite being united by the same economic trends. Part of the hard work in starting our weekly Art of Business section will be making sure that we are representing the diversity of this community, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. 

Want more marketing tips geared toward small businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Art of Business!


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