Discussion Paper

The financing experiences of nonemployer firms: evidence from the 2014 joint small business credit survey


Abstract: Businesses without employees?or nonemployer firms?make up the majority of small businesses in the United States, but little is known about their financial lives, including their business financing needs and experiences. In this paper, we discuss findings from data on nonemployer firms in the 2014 Joint Small Business Credit Survey, a new annual survey by the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, and Philadelphia. Our results indicate that nonemployers use financing less than employers do. They hold less debt and apply for financing at lower rates, even when controlling for revenue size. The lower demand for credit appears to be a combination of a preference to avoid debt and a perception that nonemployers will be denied if they apply. Nonemployer applicants have more difficulty being approved and are likelier to seek financing from online lenders than are employer firms. We believe that the higher denial rates that nonemployers experience are at least partially explained by the differing attributes of the group. Nonemployers are younger, likelier to cite their poor credit score as a reason for denial, and less likely to be turning a profit than are employer firms.

Keywords: Firm performance; new firms; start-ups; financial institutions and services;

JEL Classification: G20; L25; M13;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper

Publication Date: 2015-07-01

Number: 2015-3