Salesforce Small Business Trends Study Reveals 2019 Trends

Salesforce just released their Third Edition Small & Medium Business Trends Report, which compiled data and observations from over 2,000 small and medium business (SMB) owners and leaders worldwide. Here are the key takeaways:


The study found that no matter how passionate or driven business owners are, their individual experiences are ultimately shaped by age and gender. The top 3 challenges for business leaders across the board were:

  • Money/access to capital
  • Hiring the right talent
  • Insufficient time


But the study found that the priority of these issues differed by gender. Women have a harder time raising capital than men. In fact, female SMB leaders say it’s their biggest challenge in running their business. According to the report,

“62% of women report that access to funding is one of the biggest obstacles they face (versus 57% of men).”

Meanwhile, men responded that their number one challenge was hiring the right talent and their second biggest obstacle was securing venture funds.  


The majority of respondents (55%) stated that their motive for starting their own business was to be their own boss. However, “compared with baby boomers/traditionalists, millennials/Gen Zers starting businesses are 183% more likely to be creating a side business” to pursue a passion or earn supplemental income.

Customer Expectations

We talk about this all the time, and the study confirmed it—customer experience reigns supreme. SMB owners prioritize customer experience when planning for the future of their business and choose capabilities that will help them deliver the personalized experiences today’s customers seek. The top way growing businesses do this is by investing in CRM technologies. According the the numbers:

  • 53% of SMB owners feel they are at a competitive disadvantage compared to larger enterprises when it comes to meeting the demand of customer expectations.
  • Medium-sized companies are 81% more likely than small companies to prioritize a CRM system in their budget, and 49% more likely to invest in technology that help them scale.
  • 58% of respondents reported they feel that delivering on customer experience expectations is a challenge for growth over the next two years.


SMBs are jumping on the tech train. SMBs that are growing are implementing tech tools such as CRM, AI, and marketing automation. On average, SMB leaders say they use 5.2 applications to run their business, with 31% using five or more. Technology isn’t just for the big guys anymore, SMBs are getting a taste, and they want more.

  • 46% of SMB owners believe their business is ready to use AI,
  • although a mere 8% of SMBs are are actually leveraging AI today.
  • However, 32% plan to use it within three years — that’s a 310% increase!

However, more than half of business owners admitted that lack of time to train employees and technology that doesn’t scale well are challenges they are facing.


With the customer experience ranking so high in SMB owners’ priorities, it’s no surprise that “90% of SMB leaders value trust above all else in their relationships with customers.” SMB leaders place an enormous amount of value on trust with their customers, employees, and vendors.

For more on what small business owners are thinking and how to set yourself apart in your industry, check out Ramon Ray’s latest book, The Celebrity CEO.

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