Inflation Is Biggest Worry Among Small Business Owners – Forbes Advisor

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Rising costs have been a major concern for Americans. Inflation for all items (including food and energy) increased 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022—the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So it’s no surprise that more than one-third (35%) of small business owners cited inflation as their biggest worry, according to a Forbes Advisor survey of small business owners. Taxes (10%), product shortages (8%), the cost of rent (5%) and the ability to hire staff (5%) were among the top concerns for business owners.

What is your biggest worry about your business?

Half of Business Owners are Worried About the Future

When asked about the future of their business, 50% of small business owners said they’re worried about their business’s survival. Some business owners worried they wouldn’t survive another six months (17%) and 13% worried they wouldn’t last another year.

A fair portion of business owners have a more optimistic outlook. Nearly one-third (32%) of business owners are not worried about the future of their business.

Age is a factor of optimism. Baby boomers (45%) were not worried about their company’s future compared to only 16% of Generation Z, 31% of millennials and 30% of Generation X.

Thinking about the future of your business, what best describes your outlook?

Covid Impacted Most Business Owners’ Revenue

More than one-third (35%) of small business owners said their revenue is lower than pre-Covid revenue, compared to 23% who said their revenue is higher than pre-Covid. About a quarter (26%) of business owners said their revenue was the same as pre-Covid.

How is your business compared to pre-Covid revenue levels?

About a quarter (26%) of men said their revenue is higher than pre-Covid revenue compared to 22% of women. Women (13%) were more than twice as likely to start a business during Covid than men (6%).

Young entrepreneurs were also more likely to open up shop during Covid. Both Generation Z (16%) and millennials (16%) said they started a business during Covid compared to 6% of Generation X and 3% of baby boomer respondents.

Over the last few years, 26% of business owners said they purchased more business insurance specifically because of Covid-related issues.

Most Business Owners Have Given Up Their Salary

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of business owners said they have not paid themselves a salary in order to keep their small business operating. One-third (33%) said they do so frequently and 31% said they do so occasionally. And 32% of business owners said they haven’t given up their salary to keep their business running.

Men (66%) were slightly more likely than women (62%) to give up their salary in order to keep their business operating.

Have you ever not paid yourself a salary to keep your small business operating?

More than three quarters (76%) of business owners in Western states said they didn’t pay themselves a salary to keep their business operating. That’s a much higher percentage compared to other regions.

Despite the challenges of owning a small business—like sometimes skipping paychecks—only 24% said they have regrets about starting their own business.

Business owners who did not pay themselves a salary to keep their business operating by region

Most Business Owners Say They Have Enough Business Insurance

Problems like a fire, severe weather, theft or a lawsuit could financially cripple a business. But most (61%) business owners say they have enough small business insurance for their company. Only 16% said they did not.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I have enough business insurance for my company.”

Business Owners Plan to Bolster Their Business Insurance

Even if most business owners feel that they have enough business insurance, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking to add more coverage types to protect their company.

More than half (52%) of small business owners said they have decided not to buy certain types of business insurance because it was too expensive. But many business owners are looking to add some additional types of small business insurance in the next 12 months.

For example, 36% of business owners have or plan to buy general liability insurance. This is a foundational coverage for problems like accidental property damage and injuries to others (such as a patron who trips and falls in your store).

And 21% of business owners have or plan to buy professional liability insurance. Also known as errors and omissions insurance, this covers claims that your business made a mistake, like providing inaccurate advice to clients, violation of good faith and negligence. It’s a good coverage type for businesses such as consultants, accountants, graphic designers, real estate agents and technology professionals.

Related: Best small business insurance

Which types of business insurance do you have or plan to buy in the next 12 months (select all that apply)

How to Get Business Owners Insurance

Skipping out on small business insurance could have a devastating impact on your bottom line. More than a quarter (27%) of business owners said they paid out of pocket for an incident because they lacked the right insurance at the time.

A good way to get started is by purchasing a business owners policy (BOP). A BOP bundles together three essential coverage types: general liability insurance, commercial property insurance and business interruption insurance.

You can add more coverage types to your policy that fits your company’s specific risks and needs. For example, if you drive a car for business purposes, you’ll want to add commercial auto insurance.

It’s a good idea to work with an independent insurance agent who can help you compare business insurance quotes among several different companies.

Business Insurance Made Simple

Compare Free Quotes From Top Insurers at SimplyBusiness. Get a Policy in Under 10 Minutes.


This online survey of 500 U.S. adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. A small business was defined as a company employing 500 or fewer people. Data was collected July 1-5, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact

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