Retirement a Key Concern for Business Owners

January 26, 2011 ( – A new survey finds the most pressing concern for small business owners is retirement and succession planning.

According to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they worry about putting enough money away for retirement. However, 57% indicated that saving for retirement is actually a low priority for the coming year – evidence that many business owners may still be facing considerable financial stress, Wells Fargo said in a press release.  

Forty-three percent of respondents indicated they plan to expand their business operations in 2011, and of those, 56% said they intend to add employees.   

Looking back at 2010, 51% of business owners with paid employees reported that they hired new employees. Forty-one percent of those business owners who hired did so to replace an employee who left; another 21% were hired to support growth or expansion plans, the press release said. Of the business owners who hired in 2010, 42% said they hired fewer new employees than they needed.  

Business owners foresee a somewhat better employment outlook in 2011: 18% expect hiring to increase at their companies over the next 12 months, up from 13% in Q3 2010.   

Other Index results show signs of optimism. Business owners surveyed in 2008 were bracing for the worst: cutting operating costs was a key focus, indicated by 79% as a very high or high priority. This year, while cost cutting remains a top concern (64%), other more forward-looking priorities have gained ground, including being more involved in communities (43%), planning a succession strategy (42%), and increasing advertising and public relations (40%). Using social media and increasing investments in technology are also cited as high priorities by approximately a third of those surveyed.   

Survey results are based on telephone interviews with 604 small business owners in all 50 United States conducted November 4-10.