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MassMutual Business Owner Perspectives Study: Lagging long-term planning impacts for small businesses

May 2nd, 2022

  • About 1 in 2 (46%) small business owners plan to retire within the next decade; however, only 1 in 3 (35%) have begun creating a succession plan
  • About 1 in 2 (49%) small business owners report they want to keep the business in their families, yet far fewer (33%) have identified successors
  • Of the small businesses that survived the pandemic, only 36% are experiencing growth and almost half (46%) report lower-than-expected revenue
  • Small business owners’ biggest long-term concern is keeping key employees loyal to the business (69%)


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – May 2, 2022 Still recovering from pandemic-induced challenges, U.S. small businesses are failing to plan for the long term, according to new research from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company's (MassMutual) Business Owner Perspectives Study. Of the small businesses that survived the pandemic, most aren’t prepared for another financial shock: Only 36% are experiencing growth and almost half (46%) report lower-than-expected revenue.

This is the fourth time that MassMutual has conducted this survey (see results from 2018, 2015 and 2011).

“As we've already seen in 2022, many business owners continue to display resilience and commitment to their customers amidst evolving headwinds and uncertainty,“ said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual US. “There is no greater way to rebuild and maintain a small business’ health than by planning for its financial future and understanding its relation to the owners’ personal financial goals.”

Workforce issues are the most prominent among challenges facing small businesses. 69% of those surveyed indicated that keeping employees loyal to the business is important; however, many are missing the opportunity of seeking professional advice.

  • Many small businesses were forced to lay off staff or reduce hours (19%) or hire new employees (19%)
  • 43% are facing workforce and staffing issues, specifically in maintaining employee productivity and morale, and hiring in a competitive market
  • 39% are facing supply chain issues, such as rising costs and increased shipping time
  • To compete in the labor market, small business owners have offered increased wages (42%), more flexibility (41%), and bonuses (36%) to hire and retain employees

Investment in business owners’ future needs is lagging but 3 in 5 would exit the business sooner if their future financial security was assured. When it comes to retirement savings, only 46% have invested in a qualified retirement savings plan and 54% feel they should be saving even more. About half (44%) have had a business assessment performed in the last three years; however, most have deprioritized three critical valuation factors:

  • Knowing if the business will be a sufficient component of their retirement income plans (26%)
  • Creating an equitable distribution of the owner’s assets as part of an estate plan (21%)
  • Establishing a buy-sell agreement between partners (20%) – which only 32% of those surveyed have in place

Small business owners keep business and personal financial planning separate but prefer one advisor who can do it all. Most small business owners (83%) say their business and personal finance wellbeing are intertwined, yet 80% ultimately prefer to separate their business and personal financial planning. At the same time, 86% value financial professionals who can address both personal and business planning and 70% prefer to work with a single advisor on their planning issues.

“The answer to many questions in the planning realm for business owners is coordination between their business and personal aspirations,” said Fanning. “We can all take lessons learned from global events and apply them to strengthen our financial foundations for future uncertainties.”

View the full 2022 Business Owner Perspectives Study and visit MassMutual’s website for additional financial resources and guidance for business owners.


MassMutual’s 2022 Business Owner Perspectives Study was conducted by LRW via a 20-minute online survey of 800 U.S. business owners in December of 2021. LRW selected U.S. business owners and partners, excluding sole proprietorships where owner is sole employee, from businesses with fewer than 500 employees and no more than 20% over 100 employees. Each has been in business one or more years and has a 2020 sales revenue of at least $250,000 or more, with no more than 10% in business from 1-3 years. The sampling margin of error for this study is +/– 2.7% percentage points when looking at the results for the total small business population, based on a U.S. Small Business Employer population of 5.8 million. These are at the 90% confidence level.

About MassMutual

MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. Founded in 1851, the company has been continually guided by one consistent purpose: we help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. With a focus on delivering long-term value, MassMutual offers a wide range of protection, accumulation, wealth management and retirement products and services. For more information, visit