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Wisconsin small business profile

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This SmalBusiness.com Local Project entry provides a overview of small business activities in Wisconsin. You can find information about a wide array of small business resources in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Hub.

Wisconsin Small Business Profile - In Wisconsin, small businesses are vital to the financial well-being of the state’s economy. Their contribution is essential for economic growth since they make up almost all employer firms in the state. As entrepreneurs and innovators, small business owners represented a diverse group in 2004 and continued to keep the state’s economy productive. The Small Business Profile provides information on the performance of small businesses in the state using the most current federal data available. This Small Business Profile was prepared by the U.S. Small Business Administration and provides information on the performance of small businesses in the state using the most current federal data available.

Number of Businesses

There were an estimated 406,766 small businesses in Wisconsin in 2004. Of the 125,888 firms with employees, an estimated 98 percent, or 123,349, were small firms. In 2004, the estimated number of employer businesses increased by 1.7 percent. The number of self-employed persons (including incorporated) decreased overall by 1.8 percent, from 317,629 in 2003 to 311,994 in 2004. Non-employer businesses numbered 283,417 in 2002, an increase of 3.5 percent since 2001, based on the most recent data available.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau; U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Women-Owned Businesses

In 2002 women-owned firms totaled 104,206, an increase of 17 percent from 1997, and generated $17.7 billion in revenues. Firms owned jointly by women and men numbered 54,026 with revenues of $15.9 billion. Women represented 29.6 percent of the self-employed persons in the state.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Minority-Owned Businesses

In 2002, Hispanic-owned firms numbered 3,750, an increase of 24 percent from 1997. Black-owned firms numbered 6,687, an increase of 38 percent; Asian-owned firms numbered 4,957, an increase of 37 percent; American Indian and Alaska Native-owned firms numbered 2,530, an increase of 8 percent; and the number of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-owned businesses was unavailable.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Business Turnover

There were an estimated 13,093 new employer businesses in 2004, 5.6 percent more than the previous year. Business terminations numbered 12,711 in 2004, an increase of 0.7 percent. Business bankruptcies increased by 2.8 percent and totaled 742 in 2004.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)


Small firms with fewer than 500 employees numbered 113,641 in 2002 and employed 1,266,582 individuals, or 53.8 percent of the state’s non-farm private sector. Net job gains among firms with fewer than 20 employees totaled 15,891, while large firms with 500 or more employees lost 38,446 jobs between 2001 and 2002.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses.)

Small Business Income

Non-farm proprietors’ income, a partial measure of small business income, increased by 7.3 percent, from $10.7 billion in 2002 to $11.4 billion in 2003.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce.)


Commercial bank lenders are an important source of small business loans, and small firms usually rely on them for financing. Over the last 10 years the number of banks in Wisconsin has declined. The Office of Advocacy has identified banks in each state that make the most loans to small businesses. This information is available in its banking studies at http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/lending.html.

See also