Frequently Asked Questions


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Results pages

Odds and ends


» What is is a database of quantitative information about American small business that can be easily sorted and refined to allow the user to extract the information he or she wants.

» What is the purpose of is designed to make the quantitative data collected for the NFIB Research Foundation’s National Small Business Poll survey series more accessible to the public. This site is effectively a search engine for the Poll’s data.

» What type of information is available from enables users to search 2000+ survey questions that have been periodically posed to samples of small employers since 2001. The survey questions address a variety of topics and typically focus on issues of small business/small employer performance or behavior. A smaller number of evaluation or opinion-type questions also appear.

» What is the source of the information found in

All data in come from the National Small Business Poll. Other resources are not employed except as reference material. For example, the Speech Material button on the home page contains statistical material outside the National Small Business Poll series.

» What is the National Small Business Poll?

The National Small Business Poll is a series of national surveys of small employers dating to 2001. Each survey contains information gathered from approximately 750 small employer respondents. The Gallup Organization draws the sample from the Dun & Bradstreet files for each survey and conducts it by telephone for the NFIB Research Foundation. The Gallup Organization is NOT responsible for production or interpretation of the data presented in the Polls or in For more information about survey methodology, click the “Data Collection Methods” tab that accompanies each survey in the Poll series.

» How does define a “small business”? a “family business"?

For purposes of and the National Small Business Poll, the term “small business” is defined as an independent (not publicly-held or held by an entity that is publicly-held), for-profit enterprise that employs between 1 and 250 people, not including the owners. The few exceptions are prominently noted.


The term family business is defined as a small business owned by two or more members of the same family.

Find your information

» How do I sort the information in to find what I want?

There are various ways you can find what you are looking for on You can browse the collection or you can search it.

Search. Use one of the following three search methods to locate the data you’re looking for.

Search method
Google-type/Boolean-lite search Type a word or word(s) in the Quick Search box. If you include more than one word, use the Boolean operators AND or OR to narrow or exand your search. For example, to locate information about contracts with the federal government, search on contracts AND federal/national. The search will automatically expand to include synonyms of the word(s) you entered. The Quick Search looks at both the question text and the answer text. After you enter your word(s), click “Go” to begin your search.
Key Words Select one or more key words to locate the subject matter in which you are interested. The more key words you select, the more refined (narrower) your search will be. To select more than one key word, depress and hold the SHIFT key. After you select your key word(s), click “Go” to begin your search.
Broad Heading If you have a general idea of what you want but you’re not sure which key words to use, you can drill down into the repository of 2000+ questions and answers by using the Broad Headings function. Selecting one of 14 broad headings, such as Finance or Employees, will bring up a menu of related key words from which you can narrow your search. You can select more than one key word under the broad heading to narrow your search. After you enter your selections, click “Go” to begin your search.


Browse. Browse the collection of National Small Business Polls by visiting the home page and clicking the “Poll” search method. An alphabetical list of all Poll topics appears with the date that each was conducted.

Once you click on a Poll name, you will see four tabs: Executive Summary, About the Survey, Tables (i.e., survey questions and answers), and Data Collection Methods. In addition to these tabs, you can view NFIB’s full report on the Poll by clicking on the PDF graphic of the Poll or by clicking on the Download PDF button at the top, left of the page.

TIP: In some cases, virtually all questions on a specific topic appear in a single Poll or survey. On others, questions on a specific topic appear in multiple Polls. If you think that questions on a topic may be concentrated in a single Poll, it is advisable to go directly to that Poll. Click the link to the relevant Poll and a PDF containing the entire Poll, including text and tables, appears.

Results Pages

» What is a question’s Preface?

All respondents do not necessarily answer each question within a survey. Some questions are irrelevant to some small employers as determined by their answers to previous questions. In those instances, a Preface describes the group of small employers answering a question. The Preface appears immediately above the question posed respondents. When all small employers in the survey answer a question, no Preface appears; the space on the results page prior to the question is blank. For example, a question may read, “Is your Web site interactive in the sense that customers can order and pay for goods or services over it?” The prior question may have asked, “Does your business have a Web site?” Thus, to define the respondents answering, the preface to the question about an interactive site would read, “Those businesses having a Web site.”

» Are the questions and results that I see in my search ordered?

Yes. All questions that fit your search are chronological, the most recently posed question first. However, the NFIB Research Foundation has identified 100 questions most frequently asked. If your search captures one or more of these substantial interest questions, it (they) will appear first on the results page. The remainder of questions that fit your search criterion(a) chronologically follow.

» What does DK/Refuse in the results tables mean?

DK is short-hand for Don’t Know. Refuse means that the respondent prefers not to answer. Thus, DK/Refuse represents those survey respondents who were asked a question, but did not or could not answer it.

» What are the Notes?

The Notes section, appearing beneath every table, provides a one sentence description of a key result from the table. Notes provide a snapshot of the key result from the survey question to help users who may be uncomfortable with tables and quantitative information. When a table presents two or more tabulations, two or more one sentence Notes appear, one to describe each table.

» Why don’t survey results always total 100 percent?

Percentages are rounded. Therefore, totals can add to 99, 100 or 101 percent. Occasionally, respondents can provide more than one answer. The totals will add to more than 100 percent in those instances.

» The letter N appears on the result page. What does N mean?

N is the number of small employers in the sample that responded to the particular question. The N is important because, other factors equal, the larger the N, the more accurate the results.

» How recent is the information in the

It varies. The first surveys in the National Small Business Poll series were conducted in 2001 and they continue to be conducted through the present. The date of a specific survey question appears on the upper left of the page containing the question and its results.

» Similar or identical questions can yield different results.  Why?

There are several possible reasons:

  • The date on which the question was asked can play an important role, particularly if the topic in question has a trend over time or is subject to the business cycle. The percentage of small businesses with a Web site is an example of the former. The difficulty attracting employees is an example of the latter.
  • The respondent population may differ. For example, one population may consist of those offering health insurance to a majority of full-time employees; another may consist of those offering it to any employee. A different population likely will yield different results.
  • The sampling error in surveys (the so-called plus or minus) often explains relatively small discrepancies. The error margin for the National Small Business Poll is about 3.5 percent, plus or minus, for the full sample rising to about 5 percent when the sample size declines to 400. A percentage point or two difference is negligible; it is a meaningless difference in Poll surveys.
  • It is possible we made a mistake computing or reproducing results. If you think we have goofed, please contact us as quickly as possible at so that we can investigate and correct the error.

» More than one tabulation occasionally appears for a single question. Why?

The purpose of additional tabulations is to provide the user more information.  A hypothetical example may be the best way to explain.  Suppose we asked small-business owners who export if they sell to customers in Canada.  Then, suppose 33 percent say, yes – they do.  That tells us that 33 percent of all small exporters have Canadian customers.  Therefore, the first tabulation is 33 percent “yes” and 67 percent “no.”  But not all small businesses export.  So, the second question is, how many small-businesses export to Canada?   That leads to the second tabulation.  Since relatively few small businesses export, about 10 percent, the second tabulation might be 3 percent “yes” and 97 percent “no.”  Three percent of American small businesses export to Canada.  Two tabulations offer two sets of information.

Odds and Ends

» What is the sampling error (the plus or minus) for the Poll surveys?

The sample size for each Poll is generally 750 and may go as high as 758. The sampling error for the Polls is, therefore, 3.5 percentage points 95 times out of 100 . In other words, if the same question was asked 100 times, it would yield an answer within 3.5 percent, plus or minus, of the true answer 95 times. Five times it would be more than plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Does all data collected for the Polls appear in

Yes, with a single exception. No data appears for questions that have fewer than 50 responses. Such small numbers provide unreliable information.

» Does all data collected for the Polls appear in

Yes, with a single exception. No data appears for questions that have fewer than 50 responses. Such small numbers provide unreliable information.

» Does include economic data from NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends survey series?

No. The monthly Small Business Economic Trends publication, press release, and forecasts can be found on New material in that series is released the second Tuesday of every month.

» Who is the sponsor of

The development of was authorized and paid for by The NFIB Research Foundation. The NFIB Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) affiliated with the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest small and independent business organization in the United States. The first two years of the Polls were co-sponsored by Wells Fargo.

» Can I obtain hard copies of an issue(s) of the National Small Business Poll?

Yes. While supplies last, you can e-mail or write us for a copy. You can also download a pdf of the issue from this site.

» Who did the technical work on this Web site?

InfoComTek Inc. ( was hired to develop Founded in 2001, InfoComTek Inc. provides technology solutions and knowledge management services to enable organizations achieve high performance.InfoComTek Inc. experience designing, developing and maintaining browser-based software and business applications is unparalleled.

» I have a question or want to make a comment.

We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail us at We appreciate your comments.