2024 State of Business Growth: Trends and challenges faced by SMBs—and what defined achievers and underperformers in 2023

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Public Relations

Despite a host of challenges, a decisive majority of small and mid-market businesses (SMBs) surveyed for a new report from small business automation software firm Keap met or exceeded their goals in 2023. This new research takes a data-driven look at the status of SMBs this year, identifies the top three challenges they are facing, and sheds light on the differences between businesses that met or exceeded goals in 2023 and those that did not..

The firm’s 2024 State of Business Growth report, based on a survey conducted by Demand Metric, analyzed the responses of more than 500 entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, COOs, marketers, and sales pros across SMBs ranging from one to 1000+ employees—unveiling a clear distinction between growth achievers (the 80 percent who met or exceeded their goals) and underperformers (the remaining 20 percent who missed their targets).

business growth

The researchers found that the top three challenges entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, and COOs are facing with processes and efficiency include: 

  • Finding time to get everything done
  • Having time to focus on building their business, and
  • Finding qualified employees

It also revealed that growth achievers are more likely to automate processes like analytics and reporting, appointment scheduling, customer communication and onboarding and email nurturing.

business growth

More findings from the report:

  • 84 percent of growth achievers report that the use of AI has positively impacted revenue, compared to only 65 percent of underperformers
  • More than half (52 percent) of growth achievers plan to increase their software budget next year, compared to only 40 percent of underperformers
  • 44 percent of emerging small businesses and 43 percent of scaling small businesses expect to increase their 2024 marketing budgets, along with more than half of mid-market companies.

The report underscores marketing investment as a pivotal driver of business growth, with over half of participants expressing willingness to allocate more revenue toward marketing endeavors. In addition, the top three investment priorities for businesses include: improving business processes, people, and AI.

business growth

“In a year filled with business challenges, [this] report can serve as a guidebook for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike to effectively scale their businesses,” said Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Keap. “By embracing strategic investments in technology and prioritizing marketing, businesses can not only survive but thrive in the face of today’s challenges. This report aims to equip small businesses with the knowledge and resources to navigate a path toward success in 2024 and beyond.”

business growth

Download the full report here.

The 2024 State of Business Growth survey analyzed the responses of more than 500 entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, COOs, marketers, and sales pros across three business types: emerging small businesses (1-10 employees), scaling small businesses (11-99 employees), and mid-market companies (100-1,000+ employees).

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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