The “Freakonomics” of small business in America 

  • You already know that small businesses run on thin margins and are easily influenced by environmental factors.
  • But we’re constantly surprised by the trends we find on Main Street. For example, did you know:
  • The problem is that too many small business owners rely on instinct, not insight, and they don’t have the tools to support even their best hunches.
  • This means they could be misdiagnosing revenue-hindering issues or making business decisions without all the information they need.
  • The takeaway: You don’t know what you don’t know, but a few simple data insights can go a long way in helping you run a better, more efficient business.

Most of us live by daily routines. You start the day with the same rituals: get to work, maybe grab a bite to eat or a coffee along the way, and before you know it, you’re in the full swing of the day. And whether you’re constantly mixing up your routine or you’re so comfortable with it your favorite jeans are jealous, it’s important to keep in mind just how non-routine running a small business can be.

At Womply, we have a view into transaction trends at millions of American small businesses. We’re always monitoring consumer behaviors, business trends, and the impact environmental factors can have on the bottom line for local businesses. And we’re constantly surprised how often our assumptions or expectations are dashed when we look at the actual data.

The “Freakonomics” of small business in America

Below, we’ve listed a just a handful of stories where conventional knowledge went out the window when we analyzed the data.

  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in 2017, we analyzed the storms’ financial impact on local businesses in Houston and Florida. We expected small businesses to have a much slower return to normal after a hurricane, but it turns out most small businesses bounce right back.
  • Spring Break really only benefits about five states, but in those five states, they see a 25% increase in daily revenue. Now that may not be surprising, but how about this: Arkansas and Georgia both see the Spring Break bump, but California and Hawaii don’t. (Arizona, Florida, and Nevada are the other three states that see a lift in early March).
  • Despite the hype, PokemonGo didn’t benefit the majority of small businesses. When the game dropped, there were stories of increase foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores, but once the dust had settled, it was more hype than help.
  • Winter storms impact sales at local eateries more than Daylight Savings Time. During a winter storm in the North East last year, sales dropped 50%. But like the businesses hit after the hurricane, they were back to normal and growing revenues within a few days.
  • We thought for sure Valentine’s Day would be one of the best days of the year for local restaurants, but it’s not. It’s not even in the top 100 days. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is better for local restaurants than Valentine’s day.
  • March Madness is a rather calm time for small businesses unless you were in a host city. Even then, restaurants and bars don’t come close to the revenue increase that local transportation and lodging businesses experience.
  • The Super Bowl is more of a bust than a boost for local bars and restaurants in NFL cities and towns.

The Point: Your business may seem routine and predictable, but when you really analyze the numbers, there are almost always surprises waiting for you. The more insight you have into the workings of your business, the better your business will perform and the less time you’ll waste on misaligned efforts. 

Instinct, meet insight

Until recently, small business owners had no choice but to operate on gut instinct. Despite the quickly advancing technological world, small business owners have been underserved and overlooked when it comes to business data. 

Times have changed, and small businesses now have access to the kind of information that’s given an edge to larger companies for decades. If you run a small business, you deserve actionable insights into your company, customers, competitors, and local market. It’s time to start expecting these insights instead of flying blind. 

Take action

Womply provides the tools small business owners need to thrive in the digital world. Our easy-to-use platform unlocks rich information that helps business owners make smarter, more insightful business decisions and save time every day. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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