Millennials, Minorities Most Optimistic About Small Business Growth in 2017

Yelp Reveals Findings of Second Annual Small Business Pulse Survey

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Yelp, Inc. (NYSE:YELP), the company that connects people with great local businesses, today released its second annual Small Business Pulse Survey, finding that nearly 90% of American small businesses active on Yelp expect their revenues to grow in 2016, estimating an increase of 31% growth in the year ahead, up from last year’s survey.

Findings show Millennial respondents and minority-owned businesses are most optimistic about 2017. On average, Millennial respondents project 69% more revenue growth than their older counterparts for 2017, and minority-owned businesses project 49% more revenue growth than white-owned businesses for 2017.

Reflecting on 2016

The majority (68%) of Yelp-listed small businesses feel their business’ performance met or exceeded expectations in 2016. As a long and divisive presidential election came to a head last year, we asked respondents how the political climate impacted their business. White business owners were 28% more likely to say it had a negative impact on their business than minority business owners. Also, more Millennial respondents said the 2016 political climate had a positive effect on their business compared to other age groups.

Political Implications

There are many political topics already being debated by the new Congress that could impact small businesses, such as healthcare reform, minimum wage increases and tax restructuring. When asked what the top focuses should be for President-Elect Trump, in order to support small businesses, Yelp-listed small businesses said reducing regulatory burden for small businesses (44%), followed by reducing the complexity of the tax code (31%) and ensuring small businesses have access to capital (28%).

“Regulation, while it can create challenges for small businesses, also ensures that businesses provide a safe and efficient environment for customers and employees,” says Shannon Eis, Yelp’s Small Business Advocate. “The survey respondents seem optimistic about the work policymakers have promised will streamline regulation for small businesses, and potentially will ease regulatory burdens by having more targeted policies,” she continued. “Yelp has been part of efforts to make regulation more efficient, like our collaboration with academicians and the city of Boston to focus restaurant health code inspections on restaurants that are most likely to have a violation.”

Challenges in 2017

While the data shows that businesses are generally optimistic about 2017, respondents did cite their biggest perceived challenges for the year ahead. The majority of businesses (57%) said attracting and retaining customers is going to be their biggest challenge in 2017, followed by managing a limited marketing budget (35%), competition from larger businesses (31%), and attracting and retaining employees (25%).

“Online reviews have allowed small businesses that offer great value and service to compete with national chains, and Yelp provides a free platform on which businesses can market their offerings,” Eis says. “Additionally, a study by the Boston Consulting Group shows that small businesses with a free Yelp business owner’s account saw an average of $8,000 in annual revenue from Yelp, and advertisers benefit nearly three times as much, generating average annual revenues from Yelp of more than $23,000.”

Feedback Economy

Nearly all survey respondents (96%) report they collect customer feedback in some form. Two in three businesses (68%) collect feedback from online review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, though that number varies depending on the business category:

  • 82% of restaurant and foodservice collect feedback from online review sites
  • 71% of health and medicine collect feedback from online review sites
  • 68% of home and local services collect feedback from online review sites
  • 63% of shopping/retail businesses collect feedback from online review sites

Although Yelp’s 2016 survey found that 74% of business owners use social media as a digital marketing tool, this year’s findings show that just 2% percent of business owners report gathering customer feedback from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. “Many business owners tell us how much time they spend trying to promote their business on social media,” Eis say, “but when it comes to collecting useful and actionable feedback to help improve and grow their business, most business owners rely on review sites like Yelp.”


The Yelp Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,191 Yelp-listed small businesses between December 6th and December 16th, 2016, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.8 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About Yelp

Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros across 32 countries. By the end of Q3 2016, Yelpers had written approximately 115 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. Approximately 25 million unique devices* accessed Yelp via the Yelp app, approximately 72 million unique visitors visited Yelp via mobile web** and approximately 77 million unique visitors visited Yelp via desktop*** on a monthly average basis during the Q3 2016. For more information, please visit or send an email to

* Calculated as the number of unique devices accessing the app on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period, according to internal Yelp logs.

** Calculated as the number of "users," as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via mobile website on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period.

*** Calculated as the number of "users," as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via desktop computer on an average monthly basis over a given three-month period.


Yelp Inc.
Hannah Cheesman


Yelp Inc.
Hannah Cheesman