What business owners have learned in the past year from lessons to major struggles

One in five small business owners came deadly close to shuttering their business for good during COVID, according to new research.

The study polled 1,000 small business executives to analyze the impact the pandemic had on their businesses and how they’re forward planning.

Three in four respondents agreed the past year was the hardest they’ve ever had — dealing with decreased sales (46%), customers (42%), and production (37%).

Two in five small business executives polled said they had to take a pay cut to keep things afloat during the pandemic. Other areas that saw cuts included the cost of supplies (40%) and marketing budgets (37%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of GotPrint, the survey found these struggles led to important lessons, however; four in five respondents said they’ve learned to use more resourceful business techniques over the last year.

The techniques included handling multiple roles on their own (58%), cutting supply costs (46%) and working from home or a less expensive space (42%).

The pandemic was quite the learning experience, though, as the biggest lesson learned across the board for respondents personally is to always have a backup plan in place in case of emergencies.

Other small businesses owners said they’ve learned to roll with the punches and that nothing can replace the loyalty of appreciative customers.

Even so, 58% still said that they’re having a hard time making ends meet when it comes to their business — especially the 84% who feel like they wear several hats such as being their own human resources, operations, and customer service representatives.

As a result, more than two-thirds (69%) end up feeling overwhelmed.

“Over the past year and a half, even in our larger-scale business, we faced great challenges, forcing us to evaluate and regroup on a daily basis,” said Raymond Hartoonian, Vice President of GotPrint. “As a team, we learned to manage turning on a dime when needed — whether that be in regard to marketing strategies, production methods, employee safety, etc.”

Small business owners are troopers, though, as proven by the 40% who still have high hopes of growing their business and the same amount who actually enjoy the grunt work of owning a business.

That’s why 41% aren’t shying away, even knowing that their brand needs a revamp after the pandemic.

Instead, many are committed to increasing their brand’s social media presence (46%), growing their list of services (35%), and learning new skills (31%) to keep customers coming.

The average business owner would spend $2,300 on a marketing plan if it would strengthen their business following, but many are hesitant to invest in one because of the cost (40%), lack of resources (34%), or lack of knowledge about where to start (26%).

“Although some may be hesitant to put money or effort towards marketing, the results will ultimately be a long-term investment for your business. Having the ability to connect with and understand your customers is a valuable trait,” said Richard Allen, Jr., Head of Marketing for GotPrint. “The way customers engage and respond to your marketing efforts will give you a better sense of direction on next steps to see where certain strategies can take your business.”


  1. Salary/pay (40%)
  2. Supplies (40%)
  3. Marketing (37%)
  4. Production costs (28%)
  5. Employees’ salary/pay (26%)


  1. To grow their business (40%)
  2. They enjoy owning a business (40%)
  3. To push themselves (40%)
  4. To help/provide a service for their community (39%)
  5. To protect their/their business’ reputation (37%)

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