Small Businesses Appear Optimistic About Growth Despite Critical Cash Flow Issues, According to Latest Pathward Research

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Published: 26 February 2024
Small Businesses Appear Optimistic About Growth Despite Critical Cash Flow Issues, According to Latest Pathward Research

Pathward Surveyed 1,000 Small Business Owners to Identify Financing Needs


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Feb. 26, 2024Pathward®, N.A., today announced the release of its “Small Business Credit Habits and Needs” report, which found that while one in three small businesses have struggled with cash flow in the changing economy, 70% consider themselves to be in growth mode.

Based on a survey of 1,000 small business owners and executive decision-makers, the report aims to uncover their financing needs compared to the loan products available to them. Despite indicating optimism for future growth, the survey results reveal Main Street has been faced with critical cash flow issues. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of small businesses reported having just enough cash to remain operational, and 56% anticipated needing funding in the coming year.

“Accessible financing is one of the most critical levers of small business success. When a company’s cash flow is under pressure, the inability to deliver on goals can be catastrophic,” said Anthony Sharett, President of Pathward and Pathward Financial, Inc. “Pathward is determined to expand access to financing options that keep our small and medium-sized business partners on track and positioned for growth.”

Faced with economic headwinds, small businesses have an array of loan options at their disposal – yet the survey revealed mixed experiences and lack of familiarity when they need financing. With business viability so tied to a solid financial footing, understanding options - and having the comfort to explore them - is vital for sustainable growth.

Notable among the survey’s findings:

  • The largest small businesses are struggling with cash flow the most: For the seven to 12 months of the year preceding the survey, 34% of small businesses reported having just enough cash on hand to stay operational. This primarily applied to companies with annual revenues of more than $10 million (48%) and 50+ employees (46%).
  • Small businesses are feeling the effects of cashflow challenges: Four in five small businesses (81%) experienced the consequences of a cash flow issue. More than a quarter had to delay a planned expansion (27%) or were unable to capitalize on an opportunity (25%) while 22% reduced staffing.
  • Lack of familiarity limits funding options: Only 32% of small businesses felt they were knowledgeable enough about asset-based loans to explain them to another person – compared to SBA loans (60%), business line of credit (57%), and equity financing (39%).


“Cash flow has a substantial consequence on small businesses. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the companies in our survey who anticipate the need for financing over the next year have experienced the impact of cash flow problems, from delaying product launches to reducing staff,” said Christopher Soupal, Division President of Pathward’s Commercial Finance business line. “Small businesses need customizable financing options to expand their operations, purchase equipment, or invest in sales and marketing – and there are more options available than most are aware of.”

To learn more about how small businesses are faring in today's environment and their financing habits and needs, you can download the full report on


Learn more about Pathward’s Commercial Finance solutions at



The survey was conducted online in March 2023, among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. small business owners with 10-200 employees, including an oversample of 100 for those working in the manufacturing and insurance industries. Qualifying titles for respondents included Small Business Owners, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, partners, owners and, for companies of 51 or more employees, vice president-level or higher in an accounting or finance function.


About Pathward® 
Pathward®, N.A., a national bank, is a subsidiary of Pathward Financial, Inc. (Nasdaq: CASH). Pathward is a U.S.-based financial empowerment company driven by its purpose to power financial inclusion. Pathward strives to increase financial availability, choice and opportunity across our Banking as a Service and Commercial Finance business lines. The strategic business lines provide end-to-end support to individuals and businesses. Learn more at


Pathward media contact:

Courtney Heidelberg



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