Inflation is Small Business Owners’ Biggest Concern – Forbes Advisor

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

It’s no surprise, then, that more than a third (35%) of small business owners cited inflation as their biggest concern, 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 top concerns for business owners.

What is your biggest worry about your business?

Half of business leaders are worried about the future

When asked about the future of their business, 50% of small business owners said they were worried about the survival of their business. Some business owners were worried about not surviving six more months (17%) and 13% were worried about not lasting another year.

A good portion of business owners have a more optimistic outlook. Almost a 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 the future of their business compared to just 16% of Gen Z, 31% of Gen Y and 30% of Gen X.

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

Covid has impacted the incomes of most business owners

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

How does your business compare to pre-Covid revenue levels?

Around a quarter (26%) of men said their income was higher than pre-Covid income, 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 a shop during Covid. Gen Z (16%) and Millennials (16%) said they had started a business during Covid, compared to 6% of Gen X and 3% of Baby Boomer respondents.

In recent years, 26% of business owners said they bought more business insurance specifically because of Covid-related issues.

Most business owners gave up their salary

Almost two-thirds (64%) of business owners said they don’t pay themselves a salary to keep their small business running. A third (33%) said they do so frequently and 31% said they do so occasionally. And 32% of business owners said they didn’t give up their salary to run their business.

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

Have you ever failed to pay yourself a salary to keep your small business going?

More than three-quarters (76%) of business owners in western states said they don’t pay themselves a salary to keep their business going. This is a much higher percentage compared to other regions.

Despite the challenges of owning a small business, such as sometimes skipping paychecks, only 24% said they regret starting their own business.

Business owners who weren’t paying themselves a salary to keep their business going by region

Most Business Owners Say They Have Enough Business Insurance

Problems like fire, bad weather, theft or a lawsuit could cripple a business financially. But most (61%) business owners say they have enough small business insurance for their business. Only 16% answered no.

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

Business owners consider boosting their business insurance

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

More than half (52%) of small business owners said they decided against buying certain types of business insurance because it was too expensive. But many business owners are looking to add other types of small business insurance over the next 12 months.

For example, 36% of business owners have or plan to purchase general liability insurance. This is basic coverage for things like accidental property damage and injury to others (like a customer tripping and falling in your store).

And 21% of business owners have or plan to purchase professional liability insurance. Also known as errors and omissions insurance, it covers claims where your business made an error, such as providing inaccurate advice to customers, breach of good faith, and negligence. It’s a good type of coverage for businesses such as consultants, accountants, graphic designers, real estate agents, and technology professionals.

Related: Best Small Business Insurance

What types of trade insurance do you have or plan to purchase in the next 12 months (select all that apply)

How to Get Insurance for Business Owners

Not getting small business insurance could have a devastating impact on your bottom line. More than a quarter (27%) of business owners said they paid for an incident out of pocket because they didn’t have the right insurance at the time.

A good way to start is to purchase a Business Owners Policy (BOP). A BOP combines three essential types of coverage: general liability insurance, commercial property insurance and business interruption insurance.

You can add other types of coverage to your policy that match your specific business risks and needs. For example, if you drive a car for business purposes, you will 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 between several different companies.

Commercial insurance made easy

Compare free quotes from the best insurers at SimplyBusiness. Get a font in less than 10 minutes.


This online survey of 500 US adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research firm OnePoll in accordance with the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct. A small business was defined as a business employing 500 people or less. Data was collected July 1-5, 2022. Margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, a member of the MRS and a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For full survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact

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