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Report #600 |

Understanding the Twenty-First Century Small Business

Small businesses present an opportunity for credit unions to invest in local communities, attract new members, grow revenue, and better support current members. For this research brief, we sat down with small business owners and entrepreneurs to help credit union leaders understand them better.
  • Lana Swartz Assistant Professor of Media Studies at University of Virginia

Executive Summary

Small businesses are changing: More Americans than ever are working for themselves, new industries are emerging, and established industries are experiencing shifting dynamics. To serve small businesses and small business owners well, credit unions must develop deep familiarity with their experiences, needs, and challenges.

Key takeaways from the research include:

  • With their own rhythms of growth, hiatus, and failure, small businesses have needs across the lifecycle that go beyond lending and payments. 
  • Credit unions must develop a strategy that takes into account the scope and scale of their outreach to small businesses. Who are you best positioned to serve?
  • To deliver best-in-class service, it is essential to decide where to partner, interoperate, or compete with existing financial services, many of which small business owners currently use. 

Credit Union Implications

As of 2023, less than 1 in 10 small businesses report that they bank with a credit union, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB); most currently use a local or community bank as their primary financial institution, which presents a great opportunity for credit unions. With credit unions being mission-driven, member-focused, and community-oriented, they are in many ways the ideal partners for small businesses. As many institutions focus on profitable growth, attracting new small business members would be an opportunity for credit unions to boost membership and drive revenue. 

This research was commissioned by Nymbus and researched by Filene.

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