Small business owners hopeful as lending challenges persist

Small business owners are reporting difficulties in obtaining credit from lenders but are still confident 2024 will be a year of growth

Small business owners are reporting difficulties in obtaining credit from lenders but are still confident 2024 will be a year of growth.

Small business owners are still facing an uphill battle in the U.S. economy thanks to factors beyond their control but still hold hopes that 2024 will be a strong year, according to new statistics published by the Federal Reserve.

In its latest “Beige Book” survey, the Fed noted that economic activity has been increasing since the start of the year, with growth ranging from slight to modest in eight out of twelve Federal Reserve districts. Business sectors such as retail, hospitality, and food service saw some cooling over January and February, but on the whole, the U.S. remains on course to make a relatively swift financial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

That being said, some economic challenges remain, especially for small business owners. Credit access has continued to tighten since the collapse of several banks closely involved with the startup sector last February and March. Although concerns about a broader banking crisis have mostly disappeared in the months since, the Beige Book report notes that “Banking contacts also indicated that credit standards tightened, particularly for business loans and commercial loans.”

A report published by Reuters backed up the notion that lenders are being more selective when working with business applicants, specifically those with smaller companies. Six entrepreneurs contacted by the media platform said they had struggled to obtain credit in 2024, with one claiming to have been searching for a loan since last March.

Aside from banks taking a more cautionary stance in the aftermath of 2023’s bank failures, interest rates are another major contributor to the chilling of the lending landscape. “Bank and business clients agreed that higher interest rates had lowered demand for loans, while tighter access to credit had lowered the potential supply,” the Federal Reserve noted in its report.

However, in spite of the credit challenges faced by small business owners, many still believe 2024 will be a strong year for the U.S. economy. The only sector with a pessimistic outlook in the Fed’s Beige Book report was the commercial real estate industry. Prices, demand, labor shortages, and other areas of importance have been making incremental improvements and are each expected to continue trending in the same direction. That should soon help ease the troubles of entrepreneurs, setting them up for success in the latter half of the year.

Did you know? ASBN America’s Small Business Network is now available to stream in over 70 million broadcasting households for users with Roku, Firestick, AppleTV, and mobile Android [download] and Apple IOS [download] devices.