Small business used to be the heart and soul of America, with more than 500,000 starting each month. But a tough financial climate during the last six years has seen more closing each month than opening.

Here are 14 things you need to know about this struggling American institution.

1. Any business with less than 500 employees is defined as a small business, according the Small Business Association.

2. On average, a quarter of new small businesses stay open for 15 years or more, a third manage 10 years, a half get to five years       and seven out of 10 last just two years.

3. Just over half of small businesses are based in homes.

4. Repair shops, beauty salons and dry cleaners rank among the fastest growing businesses among small businesses.

5. Out of 28 million small businesses in America, 22 million are self-employed businesses with no additional payroll or           employees.

6. Just over half of America’s 120 million working population are employed in small businesses.

7. Since 1995 small businesses have been responsible for 65 percent of all new jobs.

8. To be called a non-employer business you must have annual business receipts of $1,000.

9. Around 75 percent of all U.S. businesses are non-employer businesses.

10. In 2011 there was 22.5 million non-employer firms, up 2 percent from the year before.

11. Non-employers have average revenues of $44,000.

12. Total revenues for non-employers hit $989.6 billion in 2011, up 4.1 percent from 2010.

13. 80 percent of non-employer businesses reported receipts of less than $50,000 in 2011.

14. 1.4 million non-employer businesses are corporations, 1.6 million are partnerships and 19.4 million are sole proprietorships.