The 1998 Survey of Small Business Finances provides robust information on the financing of small businesses including an overview of their firm's organization, financial characteristics, and credit use. Information from the survey is used in this study to compare the financial characteristics of urban and rural small businesses. Overall, rural small businesses have very similar financial characteristics, access to technology and financial services, sources of financial capital, and creditworthiness when compared to urban small businesses. Nonparametric rank order statistical methods were required when comparing dollar values of urban and rural small businesses because normality assumptions were violated due to the high concentration of small firms. On average, rural and urban small businesses were strong financially and profitable. Accounts receivable and inventory comprise nearly a third of total assets. Most were organized as either sole proprietorships or corporations. The majority of small businesses utilized computers, primarily for accounting/bookkeeping, administration, and email. Primary financial services are used for transactions and trade credit. Two-thirds of purchases involve trade credit from more than 20 trade credit suppliers, on average. Both urban and rural small businesses rely on a wide variety of sources for financing and use each to the same degree. Rural small businesses possess higher creditworthiness, but nearly one-fourth still report being delinquent on business obligations.


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