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  • Represents the smallest businesses in the U.S., which
    employ more than half of non-farm private employees
  • Our data comes directly from Intuit software—not from surveys
  • The only small business indexes updated monthly from real data
  • Based on a statistically sound methodology

Intuit Small Business Indexes

Our indexes are designed to provide statistically sound data and insight into small business trends and behavior. We collect actual data from Intuit software users, analyze the numbers, and publish monthly so you can follow the pulse of small business today. What sets our indexes apart?

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About the Intuit Small Business Revenue Index

Overview | Methodology | FAQS | Archive | About the Economist

As the leading provider of small business financial and business management tools, Intuit has a wealth of information about small business activity. In addition to our Small Business Employment Index, we now offer the Small Business Revenue Index to provide a unique view into this dynamic sector. Up until now, there has been a lack of current information and understanding on small businesses and the unique impact they have on the economy.

This Revenue index is the first to provide current information on small business revenue, and the only source of monthly small business revenue data. Near real-time data is used to measure revenue (receipts) per company, which is compiled into an index starting from 100 in January 2005 for each industry group. The data comes from approximately 100,000 Intuit QuickBooks Online customers, a subset of the total QuickBooks Online user base, and is published monthly on a close to real-time basis.

Complete Methodology White Paper

The Revenue Index is constructed to reflect trends in small business monthly revenue activity. The data comes from approximately 100,000 companies that use QuickBooks Online.

We first pre-process the data to select a suitable set of companies and their transactions. Then we compute the average revenue per company for each month.

These averages contain biases that need to be accounted for. One source of bias arises because a fraction of transactions are recorded late, or "backfilled". We adjust for this by predicting the amount of backfilled revenue based on past observations.

An initial examination of the data reveals that the companies who signed up earliest for QuickBooks Online tend to have more revenue than later signups. This is another source of bias, which we call the "cohort effect". In addition, it appears that there are systematic patterns in revenue related to the number of years companies have used QuickBooks Online. We surmise that this is related to company age.

To isolate the influence of economic conditions on company revenue, and separate it from the changing size of customer cohorts and changes related to company age, we do a statistical analysis known as regression of revenue with respect to month, cohort, and age. The idea is that the coefficients of the cohort variables will trace out the changing size of the companies in different cohorts, the coefficients of the age variables will trace out how revenue changes as the company ages, and the month coefficients will reveal the influence of economic activity in different months generally on company revenue.

Since the influence of the recession and other economic factors might be quite different for different sectors, we perform these regressions separately for each sector; the month coefficients for the different sectors are then combined using a weighted average and the resulting series is adjusted for seasonality and reported as a trend.

What is the Intuit Small Business Revenue Index?

The Intuit Small Business Revenue Index is the first and only index providing current information on monthly small business revenue. The Index is based on a set of approximately 100,000 small businesses that use QuickBooks Online, of which approximately 15 percent are sole proprietorships with no employees. This is not survey data, but instead data generated from Intuit's QuickBooks Online records in near real-time.

What is the purpose of the Index and why is it unique?

We created the Intuit Small Business Revenue Index to provide real-time information on small business activity. We believe that it's important to understand what's happening with month-to-month revenue among small businesses. This insight gives us a more complete picture of the health of our overall economy and is often critical for understanding specific trends. Because the Index is created with online QuickBooks data, the Index is available with a lag of only a few weeks. There are no other indexes that publicly track small business revenue.

How is your Index different than the numbers put out by other organizations?

The Revenue Index is the first to provide current information on monthly small business revenue. Moreover, the information is provided in near real-time. The only other similar information on small business revenue comes from the Statistics of Income (SOI) from the Internal Revenue Service. This data is provided on an annual basis only and available about two years after the close of a tax year. The National Income and Product Accounts also provides data monthly at an aggregate level past dates for available SOI data, but it is revised once the SOI data is complete. We expect that the Intuit Small Business Revenue Index will be of interest because so little current information about current small business activity.

When will your Index be available?

The 2014 calendar is shown below. Each release represents a full calendar month of transaction data. The data is pulled on the 21st of each month for the prior month.

Month Release Date
November 2013 01/07/2014
December 2013 02/04/2014
January 2014 03/04/2014
February 2014 04/01/2014
March 2014 04/30/2014
April 2014 06/03/2014
May 2014 07/01/2014
June 2014 07/30/2014
July 2014 09/03/2014
August 2014 09/30/2014
September 2014 11/04/2014
October 2014 12/02/2014
November 2014 01/06/2015
Why do you release the Revenue Index for the prior month and not the current month?

The data for the Revenue Index is pulled on the 3rd Sunday of each month for the previous full calendar month. A few extra weeks are needed to make sure that the Index has the most up-to-date data as many businesses backfill their accounting files for the previous month.

How many firms are represented in your index?

The Intuit Small Business Revenue Index is based on approximately 100,000 small businesses that use QuickBooks Online, a subset of the total QuickBooks Online user base.

How many customers does Intuit QuickBooks have and are all of these used in the index?

Intuit QuickBooks serves more than 4 million small businesses with both desktop and online financial management services. The Index is based on approximately 100,000 small businesses that use Intuit QuickBooks Online. This is a subset and not the total number of Intuit QuickBooks users.

What's your methodology?

See the description of our methodology here .

What steps has Intuit taken to ensure the privacy and security of its customers' account details used in the Index?

The data is pulled in aggregate from approximately 100,000 Intuit QuickBooks Online small business users. The data are then used to separate cohort and age effects on average company revenue and to isolate the influence of the business cycle on company revenue. Since the data is provided in aggregate form only, it is not possible to use the Index to determine a specific small business' revenue or profit. See our White Paper for details.

To learn more about Intuit's Privacy Policy, visit:
http://smallbusiness.intuit.com/small-business/privacy/index.jsp

Does the Index reflect Intuit's base of QuickBooks customers or Intuit's business results for any period?

No. The reason we make an effort to statistically separate the cohort and age effects in the revenue data is to isolate the impact of the economy on small business revenue. Thus, the figures do not reflect the changing size or age of companies that are QuickBooks Online users. The percentage changes in revenue reflect the conditions of the economy on the QuickBooks Online users, but do not represent changes in Intuit's base of QuickBooks Online users or Intuit's business results for any period. The Small Business Revenue Index data is constructed to reflect revenue activity in small businesses, after controlling for the changes in the composition of the QuickBooks Online users. We cannot say that this is representative of all small business because we make no effort to calibrate the figures to any other small business data. If we did try, we could not say much because we have only annual data for 2005-2009 from the IRS by industry.

How does the Revenue Index complement Intuit's Employment Index to tell a more complete story about small business growth and the economy?

Intuit's Revenue and Employment Indexes enrich our understanding of small business by providing current, monthly data on small business revenue, hiring and compensation trends in the U.S.

Why do you revise the data each month? Is this standard practice with other indices?

On the 3rd Sunday of each month, the transactions for the previous month are tabulated and appended to the data for historical months. This raw data is not revised; however, the statistical procedure used to construct the index is such that adding a new month of data will affect previously reported values for prior months. This is also true of the figures reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) each month. When BLS re-runs its seasonal adjustments to employment, there are usually revisions to the figures for several prior months. In addition, we use the IRS Sole Proprietorship Statistics for re-weighting by industry, and incorporating new data from that source (released annually) will result in revisions to our index.

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Intuit Economist Dr. Susan Woodward

The Intuit Small Business Revenue Index has been constructed from QuickBooks Online data by nationally recognized financial economist Susan Woodward.

Susan Woodward founded Sand Hill Econometrics, which publishes the Sand Hill Index, an index of value for venture-capital-funded companies. She has licensed this index to Dow Jones, which now publishes it as the Dow Jones Index of Venture Capital. Sand Hill Econometrics also provides measurement of risk and performance for alternative assets to institutional investors.

Woodward has a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from UCLA. She taught finance for the first 10 years of her career. She then served 10 years (1985-1995) in the government in Washington D.C., including four years as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and four years as chief economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She now lives in Menlo Park, California, and works on issues in both mortgage lending and securities.

Contact Us For questions and requests contact: index@intuit.com