A new survey finds New Jersey business owners have adapted to the realities of the COVID-19 health emergency but uncertainty about the future remains a major challenge for almost all of them.

The survey, conducted by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, looked at how mostly smaller businesses and nonprofits have revised operations during the pandemic to conduct serve customers and support employees.

“They did tell us, by and large, they did get money from the federal government Paycheck Protection Program and also from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority grants,” said center director Carl Van Horn.

He noted that funding helped to keep most of these businesses afloat “but obviously they need more support going forward to avoid bankruptcy, going out of business, and also to adapt.”

He said many of these businesses understand they need to do a better job attracting customers in new ways.

“That really means more assistance in online marketing and how to use social media,” he said. “All of the things many of them were not used to doing because they were in-person businesses.”

The survey found 49% of businesses are looking for assistance with social media and online marketing.

Other key findings:

  • 39% have increased their use of online platforms to offer goods or services since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • 92% of customer-facing businesses are very or somewhat confident that they can satisfy their customers with their goods or services.
  • 83% of survey respondents say they expect to lose significant revenue or nonprofit funding in the next three to six months.
  • 67% have received financial assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
  • 47% have received NJEDA grants or loans.

He said while these businesses have been able to figure out ways to survive to this point, what they now need is "another infusion of cash assistance and technical assistance so they can continue to function, they still need that lifeline for the next several months clearly.”

The online survey, conducted in English and Spanish, was administered between Nov. 4 and Dec. 1. It was distributed via government agencies, industry and chamber associations and social media channels.

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