Small business challenges in the economic environment in 2024

As we enter 2024, the geopolitical and domestic environment imposes on small business challenges that pose a threat to their survival. Foremost among these challenges is the persistent presence of inflation, which has significantly impacted the cost of goods and services. 

Businesses are dealing with the ramifications of geopolitical events, such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the war in Israel. These events have instigated a wave of uncertainty and instability in global markets, making it exceedingly difficult for small businesses to plan for the future and make informed strategic decisions. 

Understanding the Impact of Inflation: the most important challenge for small business owners

Economic Inflation for small business challenges

One of the greatest small business challenges lies in the surge in prices that has placed immense pressure on small businesses, making it increasingly struggling for them to maintain competitive pricing while still turning a profit. Consequently, many small businesses are finding it difficult to stay afloat in this demanding economic climate, with some even being forced to shutter their operations.

The resulting disruptions in supply chains, increased costs, and erratic consumer demand have further compounded the obstacles faced by small businesses. In the face of these trying times, small businesses must demonstrate resilience and adaptability to navigate these challenges and emerge triumphant.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the main costs in small business lay on labor forces and inventory.

  • Labor accounts for 70% of business spending, making it the largest cost for most businesses.
  • Inventory represents the second biggest cost, averaging 17 to 25% of a business’s budget.
  • Advertising, despite its perception of high spending, only makes up 1% of a business’s revenue on average.
  • Over half of all small businesses have cut spending in response to rising costs and inflation.

The new regulations that will take effect in 2024

New Regulations for Economic Inflation for small business challenges

Regulations are created to improve business, prevent illegal business activities and protect workers. Small businesses need to be aware of the new regulations that will take effect in 2024, although often for the owners, these mean more bureaucracy and higher costs, which represents challenges for small business start ups.

According to U.S.News, small businesses will need to register with an agency called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2024, as part of an act passed in 2021 called the Corporate Transparency Act.

Key Statistics and Insights for small business challenges according to the owners in 2024

The small business outlook for 2024 appears cautiously optimistic according to a CNBC national survey, with concerns about inflation and the ability for businesses to grow without adding employees. Small business owners express mixed views on the national economy, with a majority reporting concerns about inflation (45%), supply chain disruptions (15%) and labor shortages (15%). 

There is also a growing interest in entrepreneurship, particularly among younger generations, but challenges related to hiring skilled workers and managing inflation are anticipated.

  • Small business owners’ outlook turned negative due to concerns over high interest rates and inflation outpacing sales.
  • A significant percentage of small business owners have a negative outlook on future economic conditions, with inflation being a top concern.
  • Many small business owners are planning belt-tightening strategies due to lower sales and inflationary pressures, leading to concerns about shrinking profits.
  • Despite confidence in their own cash flow, a higher percentage of small businesses are negative about the U.S. economy, with inflation remaining a top concern for an extended period.

Startup Failure Rates. (Source: Exploding Topics)

Half of all businesses fail, but this is just part of the story. It’s important to note that 20% fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, and 50% by year five. This highlights the critical nature of the first five years for new ventures. 

The main small business challenges that owners have to deal with to not fail are: Market-fit product, marketing, human resources issues, and cash flow problems.

Why Do Most Startups Fails? (Source: Exploding Topics)

Adapt or perish: Facing the small business economic challenges, adaptability and resilience are the secret to success in 2024

In the challenging world of small business, survival is key. To navigate turbulent times and thrive, it’s crucial to embrace a set of core values. Here is a concise list of seven essential values that can serve as a compass for small business success.


Embrace change and be willing to adjust your business model to meet evolving customer needs and market trends.

Customer Focus

Prioritize building strong relationships with your customers by providing exceptional service and understanding their preferences and expectations.

Financial Management

Maintain a tight control on your finances by regularly monitoring cash flow, reducing unnecessary expenses, and seeking opportunities for cost savings.


Foster a culture of innovation within your business, encouraging creative thinking and exploring new ideas to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Marketing Strategy

Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that utilizes both traditional and digital channels to effectively reach and engage your target audience.

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    Operational Efficiency

    Streamline your operations by implementing efficient processes, leveraging technology, and optimizing your resources to maximize productivity and minimize waste.


    Build resilience by anticipating and preparing for potential challenges, such as economic downturns or unexpected disruptions, and having contingency plans in place.

    Implementing adaptive POS technologies to deal with the economic challenges in 2024

    The ability to integrate various functions and services, such as contactless payments, customer loyalty management, and data analytics into POS systems, contributes to improved operational efficiency. Highlight how the adaptability of these systems enables small businesses to offer a wide range of services more seamlessly.

    Run your business with a Free POS System.
    Find out how.

    Adapting to technology and consumer trends is essential for success in 2024. Small businesses can explore how adopting adaptive POS systems enables them to keep up with changing consumer demands, streamline transactions and deliver more efficient shopping experiences.

    Embracing technological solutions may also help to overcome operational challenges and better position their businesses to weather broader economic small business challenges.

    In conclusion, the keys to survival for small businesses in 2024 revolve around adaptability, digital presence, customer experience, financial management, innovation, employee well-being, community engagement, agility, resilience, and strategic planning. By focusing on these key areas, small businesses may deal with a challenging economic environment and can position themselves for success in the years ahead. PDF icon

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