2021 Small Business Outlook

Each year, TMC Financing surveys our small business clients to get an insight on their outlook and predictions for the coming year. According to 225 small business owners who participated in the survey, one thing is certain. The pandemic has caused a clear impact on small businesses’ 2021 outlook.

The results from our 2020 survey (completed Jan 2020) indicated that small business owners were more optimistic than they have been in ten years. Sadly, 2020 ended up being the most challenging year for the majority of small business owners and most took a major hit. This year’s results were the most bleak we’ve seen in the 10 year history of conducting the survey.


Last year, 70 percent of small business owners thought they would see a revenue increase in 2020, however only 19 percent actually had an increase in revenue. This is the lowest percentage we have seen in ten years. Seventy-three percent reported a decline in revenue and 8 percent reported their revenue stayed steady.

While we typically see 60 to 70 percent of respondents predicting an increase in revenue for the upcoming year, this year only 45 percent of respondents predict an increase in revenue for 2021. Twenty-three percent predict another year of decreased revenue and 32 percent believe their revenue will stay the same.


Twenty-one percent of respondents plan on expanding in 2021, compared to 31 percent in 2020. Of the 21 percent of those that plan on expanding, 81 percent plan on purchasing space and 19 percent plan on leasing.

41 percent of respondents plan on hiring additional employees in 2021 and seven percent plan on reducing their number of employees. Fifty-two percent plan on maintaining their current employee count.

“Despite the challenging year, over twenty percent of respondents indicated that they plan on expanding in 2021 and almost half plan on hiring additional employees,” said TMC founder and president Barbara Morrison.

“This is great to hear because it means many small businesses are still thriving and ready to grow,” Morrison continues. “Rates are extremely low right now and with the additional incentives under the CARES Act, such reduced fees and debt forgiveness, this is the best time to utilize the SBA 504 Program for a building purchase.

“I also love to see that such a strong majority recognize the benefits of owning over leasing. Purchasing property is definitely the way to go when you are ready to expand to ensure the longevity of your business and keep your occupancy costs stable.”


Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported that they plan to refinance their current debt this year, compared to eighteen percent last year. Refinancing with an SBA 504 Loan is extremely beneficial to small business owners and has proven to be very helpful for businesses on their road to recovery. Additionally, the 2021 relief bill implements several enhancements to the SBA 504 refinance loan, such as more lenient eligibility guidelines and an improved cash-out option, making it even more useful.  

By utilizing the SBA 504 Program for refinancing, small business owners can free up capital trapped in real estate and take advantage of the attractive terms of the 504 loan.

SBA 504:

Ninety percent of respondents reported that the 504 loan has helped their business. Respondents reported that the 504 loan ‘saved my business,’ ‘reduced stress and improved cash flow,’ and ‘helped more than you can ever imagine.’

In fiscal year 2020, TMC Financing provided $305 million in SBA 504 financing to about 300 small business owners across California and Nevada, a volume that put us at the No. 1 SBA 504 lender in the Western United States.

TMC borrowers from the past year will to create or retain an estimated 2,143 jobs.


The TMC Annual Small Business Outlook Survey for 2020 was conducted by email in December of 2020. The sample size of 225 is from a total population of 937 borrowers who are part of TMC’s active loan portfolio and provides a confidence level of 95% with a margin of error of 5.77%. The views and opinions represented here are from a collection of business owners throughout California and Nevada and do not reflect the views of TMC Financing nor the U.S. Small Business Administration.