New Survey of Small Business Owners Shows a Credit Crunch is Hindering Growth

  • Survey data comes as Federal Reserve considers a proposed regulation that could make obtaining loans more expensive and more difficult

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 25, 2023 – A credit crunch has descended upon small business owners nationwide hindering their growth and causing some to say that if it continues, they’ll be forced to close altogether. A new nationwide survey from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices today shows 78% of small business owners are concerned about their ability to access capital and only 29% say they can afford to take out a loan given current interest rates. Eighty-five percent say if access to capital continues to tighten it will impact their growth forecast. Of those that say their growth forecast will be impacted, 67% will halt expansion plans if credit continues to tighten, and, alarmingly, 21% would close their business if the credit market continues on this trajectory.

The access to capital challenges are even more stark for minority-owned businesses. Black small business owners have a higher application rate for business loans or lines of credit, but have a much lower rate of receiving the full funding requested compared to their white peers.

  • While 43% of Black business owners have applied for a loan or line of credit in the past year (versus 30% of White small business owners), only 26% reported receiving all of the funding they requested (versus 51% of White small business owners).
  • While 78% of all small business owners said it was difficult to access capital, the challenge is more pronounced among minority small business owners.
    • 81% of Hispanic small business owners and 85% of Black small business owners are
      concerned about their ability to access capital.

"Small business owners are the backbone of our economies, but the ongoing credit crunch means that capital to fund expansion plans, reinvest in our companies or hire more workers is unaffordable and inaccessible,” said Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew based in Brooklyn, NY. “Now, even after 11 interest rate hikes since March 2022, the Federal Reserve is pushing a new regulation, which could make loans more expensive and more difficult to obtain. This latest survey data makes it perfectly clear that we need regulators to stop the squeeze on small businesses.”

On top of being deeply concerned about their ability to access capital, small business owners are concerned about the overall business climate and the state of the U.S. economy:

  • Thinking about the past four years, nearly a third (31%) say 2023 has been the most difficult year for business. Only 6% more said 2020’s pandemic year was more difficult (37%).
  • 33% of small business owners applied for a new business loan or line of credit in the past year, with 65% of those who have applied stating they found it difficult to access affordable capital
  • 64% of small business owners have outstanding loans and/or lines of credit.  Of those, 35% have a variable interest rate. 88% of those with variable interest rates have seen their interest rates increase, with 58% saying the increase has been between 3-10%.
  • Compared to three months ago, 46% believe the economy has gotten worse.

The survey’s findings come after an announcement last week that small business owners across the country are joining a diverse group of stakeholders including lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, the NAACP, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League, in mobilizing to raise concerns about the Federal Reserve’s proposed regulation, formally called “Basel III Endgame.” The nationwide campaign, dubbed Tell the Fed to Stop the Squeeze on Small Business, launched with two new digital advertisements, and will continue in the coming weeks with additional paid media, as well as other activations of small business owners to ensure policymakers understand the devastating impact of the proposed regulation.

A significant majority, 87%, said it is important for their elected officials in Washington to weigh in with the Federal Reserve regarding their proposed regulation.

The nationwide survey of 1,240 small business owners was taken October 9-12, 2023. Respondents came from 48 U.S. States, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. For more information on the survey, please visit


Background on Basel III Endgame

Since Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices launched in 2020, small business owners have consistently stated that accessing capital is one of the biggest challenges they face, which led 10,000 Small Businesses Voices to partner with the Bipartisan Policy Center to produce three policy reports to address small business financing gaps and modernize the Small Business Administration (SBA).

In July 2023, US regulators proposed the Basel III Endgame rule, which will require large banks and most regional banks to further increase the amount of capital they hold by an estimated 20% on average. The negative impact to US small businesses includes:

  • Reduced access to capital. If capital requirements for banks are significantly increased as proposed, they will be pressured to offer less financing to borrowers or offer it at a higher cost. The smaller borrowers are likely to be squeezed out – including small businesses, households, and consumers.
  • Further disadvantage minority-owned small businesses. Minority-owned businesses already face significant challenges accessing capital. According to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices survey, 81% of Hispanic small business owners and 85% of Black small business owners are concerned about their ability to access capital. This proposal would make it even harder for minority-owned businesses to access loans and credit.
  • More expensive borrowing. Many banks already consider small businesses to be bigger risks. The capital proposal will further exacerbate the problem, making it more expensive for banks to lend to small businesses.

For more information on the Tell the Fed to Stop the Squeeze on Small Business campaign, please visit

About 10,000 Small Businesses Voices

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, which in April marked its three-year anniversary, builds on 10,000 Small Businesses and organizes program participants to advocate for policies that matter to them. Learn more at