Small Businesses Then and Now

Although the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong among small business owners, a lot has changed over the past six decades. Here are some of the major differences between present day small businesses and those from the 1960’s and 70’s.

small businesses

This post is a part of a series celebrating National Small Business Week. 

Although the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong among small business owners, a lot has changed over the past six decades. Here are some of the major differences between present-day small businesses and those from the 1960s and ’70s:

Major differences between small businesses now and then

  • During the 1960’s, big business dominated the domestic economic landscape which made it difficult for small firms to compete. In the 1950’s, small business output accounted for roughly 58 percent of total domestic output. This number dropped to around 48 percent in the early 60’s and, by 1977, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees produced only 46.5 percent of business output in the United States. Today, small business’s contribution is starting to grow again, and the SBA estimates that the output percentage of GDP is back up to 50 percent.
  • In 1965, the top five industries for startup companies were: housing, computer technology, chemicals, electrically powered consumer durables and automobile services/parts. Today, the top five fastest growing industries are: candy, mobile apps, accounting services, fast casual dining and green construction.
  • In the 1950’s and 60’s, the SBA only classified companies employing less than 250 employees as small businesses. This number increased to less than 500 employees in the 1970’s. Today, firms with fewer than 500 workers account for 99.7 percent of employer firms. There are currently 28 million small businesses in the United States and they outnumber large corporations 1162 to 1.
  • In 1960, minorities owned roughly 10 percent of small businesses in the United States. As of 2007, the number of minority-owned businesses increased to 21.3 percent (one-fifth) of the nation’s 28 million small businesses.
  • In 1972, women owned only 4 percent of all American businesses. Today, 38 percent of American businesses are owned by women.

Other interesting figures from 2013

  • 70 percent of small businesses survive past two years while only 50 percent make it past five.
  • Small businesses employ 57 percent of the country’s private workforce.
  • 50.8 percent of small business owners have college degrees.
  • Immigrants make up 12.5 percent of small business owners in the United States.
  • 54 percent of small businesses are operated from home. Only 2 percent are franchises.

What changes do you think are on the horizon for small businesses in the next 50 years?

If you’re a small business owner using Shoeboxed for your business and would like to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you.

Shoeboxed is a painless receipt scanning & expense managing solution for small business owners. Shoeboxed helps you reduce piles of paper receipts, turning them into organized and actionable digital data. This action will save you time and clutter and allow you to focus on your core mission, as well as gain remarkable success.

Try Shoeboxed for free now!

Author: Michael Hourigan

Often referred to as "the longest standing intern at Shoeboxed," Michael is a native North Carolinian who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an avid golfer, skier and novice bird watcher. When he is not developing marketing campaigns, Michael enjoys binge watching WWII documentaries on Netflix.