The survey was launched in 2014 through an effort that merged the regional surveys conducted by several Federal Reserve Banks. The 2016 survey is the first national small business survey that has involvement from all 12 Federal Reserve Banks and input from all 50 states.

The report finds that although many employer firms were profitable and optimistic, a significant majority had recently faced financial challenges, experienced funding gaps, and relied on personal finances. These issues were even more pronounced for the smallest firms, which were less likely to receive necessary funding and more likely to rely on personal finances to operate. These findings highlight small businesses’ obstacles to growth and raise new questions about how to overcome them.