Identifying Active Small Business Categories

To identify small business categories that will “survive and thrive”, the first thing we look at is the activity level by category. There are many ways to operationalize activity, including evaluating:


Each of these provides a particular “lens” into the activity in a category. Generally, we’ll look at many of these to make an assessment. To give you an example of what this process looks like, here’s an example about measuring activity in online presence:

Activity in Online Presence

Small businesses can change their online presence in many ways, spanning both content and functionality:

  • Adding new delivery options or schedule changes
  • Enablement of eCommerce
  • Enablement of virtual consultations
  • Ramping up digital advertising

We looked at data and information from many sources, internal and external, to identify categories that have been the most active in modifying their websites and/or ramping up their digital advertising.

We organized our analysis by business category, starting with top-level categories, and working our way down to granular sub-categories. As shown below, there’s been much activity across diverse categories.

At the top level, we found these categories to be among the most active currently:


*Number of small businesses in BuzzBoard proprietary data set (meeting specific record robustness criteria). Sources: BuzzBoard US SMB data set; informal category activity reports, including digital advertising, from 12+ industry sources. This is a representative, partial list.
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Next, we looked at the website change order data for over 200 sub-categories. The story gets particularly interesting at this granular level. In fact, we looked at the sub-categories and clustered them in an “organic” way — to be particularly actionable for our enterprise and agency clients.

A couple of examples

A new category emerges that we call “Support Services”. It’s highly active and includes the most active 3 sub-categories out of the entire list of 200 sub-categories. They are:

  • Religious Services & Organizations
  • Counseling Services
  • Personal Coaching

A “Professional Services” category, a composite of various professional services traditionally provided in an office setting, is also highly active. This includes:

  • Real Estate – Brokers & Agents
  • Financial Planning and Investments
  • Legal Services
  • Tax Preparation

We believe the Professional Services category is ripe for a number of adaptive changes, given the feasibility of providing many of these services remotely. Their current level of activity is a harbinger of the quick evolution we see ahead.

Overall, change orders from small businesses in Support Services and Professional Services together accounted for 34% of total website change orders.

Source: vSplash data on website change orders mid-March to mid-April 2020.

Sources: BuzzBoard US SMB data set; informal category hiring reports, both local and national.

We believe a multi-factor activity assessment at the category level is the most effective way to identify small businesses that will survive and thrive. Seeking out the initiative-takers is an approach repeatedly validated by previous experience. We look forward to sharing our findings and insights with you.

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