Data Releases

Sageworks is the leading source of current industry data on privately held companies. To receive our latest data by email, sign up for our data releases. Before using Sageworks' data please view our citation guidelines.

Despite access to credit, many business owners are reluctant to take on debt

A survey report from Sageworks


Raleigh, N.C., July 24, 2014 – Despite reports that small business loans are becoming easier to obtain, a majority of small business owners don’t ever apply for them, according to a survey from Sageworks, a financial information company. When asked if they had ever applied for a loan for their business (including personal loans), just under 77 percent of small business owners said they had not. All businesses surveyed were less than 10 years old.



The survey also asked small business owners why they chose other means of funding over business loans. 62 percent of respondents said it was because they did not want to take on debt, and 24 percent said they did not believe they would be approved for a loan. Twelve percent thought the cost of credit was too high, while nine percent said the loan process was too time-consuming.



But how are business owners financing their businesses if they aren’t applying for loans? When asked how they’re starting their business operations without taking on debt, 59 percent of respondents said they used personal savings to start their business. Almost 30 percent didn’t need any funding and 10.5 percent received funding from friends or family. Just over 19 percent of respondents did rely on a loan or line of credit.


Sageworks Chairman Brian Hamilton explained that this reluctance to take on debt is, in many ways, a good sign: “Taking on too much debt can be harmful to a business. Management starts worrying about how to pay back the loans, rather than how to really scale the business.” That businesses currently have greater access to capital is good news, Hamilton explained, but it’s even better news that they’re being cautious about accepting that capital and debt.
About the Survey

Sageworks conducted the online survey between April 23, 2014 and April 25, 2014, collecting responses from 286 small business owners. The poll’s respondents were all business owners that have been in operation for less than ten years. They were not randomly selected.


About Sageworks

Sageworks is a financial information company and the leader in the analysis of privately held companies. The company provides risk-management solutions to financial institutions and financial analysis and benchmarking applications to accounting firms and private companies. Sageworks data and applications are used by thousands of accounting firms and financial institutions across North America and internationally.



Sageworks Data & Research Team
Phone: 919-851-7474 ext. 596
Twitter: @sageworks