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Small Business

Survey Shows What’s Keeping U.S. Small Business Owners Awake at Night

New report charts business worries of the businesses that employ millions of Americans but are often overlooked.

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Surveys often poll business owners to gauge their outlook on the economy, anticipated spending or hiring plans, but we don’t often hear from the owners of very small businesses – those employing 20 or fewer people. Despite their small size, as a group, businesses of this size account for two-thirds of American small businesses, employing 17% of the U.S. workforce.  However, the worries of this important group are often overlooked.

SurePayroll, a provider of payroll services built for small businesses, asked more than 500 owners of small businesses with 20 or fewer employees about their worries about the current business environment.

“As we move into the new year, it’s important to take time to assess the concerns of the people who run small businesses, because, in many ways, they are often the first to feel the impact of economic change,” said John Cumbee, general manager of SurePayroll. “Looking at what worries leaders of the smallest businesses in America is long overdue.”

The resulting 2020 Small Business Worry Index provides new insight into the minds of U.S. small business leaders, defining their challenges and offering a snapshot of how issues of the day affect their businesses differently.

Key findings include:

  • Small business owners are concerned about the future despite a historically strong economy. Over the next year, nearly a quarter of respondents anticipate being unable to make payroll at least once, leaving as many as 5.1 million Americans at risk of missing a paycheck in 2020.
  • Business worries seep into small business owners’ personal lives. A significant number of respondents said that personal relationships, physical and mental health, and their work-life have suffered as a result of work-related stress.
  • Economic decision-making from political leaders is troubling. More than a third of respondents (35%) are concerned about how tariffs will affect their businesses in 2020. Additionally, respondents indicated uncertainty among political leadership and decision-making as some of their biggest worries heading into the next decade. 

Topics covered in the survey included the economy, taxes and regulation, cash flow management, technology and cybersecurity, and hiring.

To read the full report, please visit:



About this survey:

SurePayroll polled 500 randomly selected small business owners across the US, between the dates of September 26, 2019 and September 28, 2019. The survey was conducted online via  Lucid and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

About SurePayroll:

SurePayroll, Inc., ( is a leading provider of online payroll and related services, including 401(k), workers’ compensation insurance, pre-employment screening and health insurance, for U.S. small businesses, CPAs and bookkeepers. An independent subsidiary of Paychex, Inc., SurePayroll founded the online payroll industry in 2000.  Together, SurePayroll and Paychex together serve more than 670,000 small businesses.