Economic Outlook

Nearly Half Of U.S. Business Owners Expect An Interest Rate Increase

A growing focus on operational risk and resiliency is supporting business confidence despite economic headwinds

A new report from Nationwide reveals business owners have a mixed outlook on current economic conditions, but are more optimistic when it comes to their own businesses. View the complete report here.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Almost half of all business owners expect interest rates to increase in the next six months, highlighting mounting economic concerns, according to a recent survey from Nationwide of 800 U.S. business owners.

The majority of small business owners (72%) and mid-market business owners (51%) rate the current condition of the U.S. economy overall as ‘poor’ or ‘fair,’ with inflation topping their list of concerns at 61%. Following closely behind are worries about the upcoming U.S. presidential election (49%), high interest rates (49%), and supply chain disruptions (40%).

Despite these and other economic uncertainties, many U.S. small and middle market business owners have a brighter perspective when considering their own businesses, with 51% of small business owners and 73% of middle-market business owners rating the economic environment for their own business as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’

Employees Placing Demands On Businesses Amid Economic Challenges

In addition to macroeconomic concerns, business owners face pressure from workers who are experiencing economic strains and demanding more from their employers. In the last six months, business owners have experienced employees:

  • Asking for better compensation (37% – all owners; small – 34%; mid-market – 39%)
  • Asking for more or better benefits (32% – all owners; small – 25%; mid-market – 40%)
  • Leaving for better paying jobs (28% – all owners; small – 22%; mid-market – 35%)

“Business owners have a lot to navigate right now, from macroeconomic anxieties to increasing demands from employees as they manage many of the same challenges. What’s clear is owners aren’t taking it on the chin; rather, they’re rolling up their sleeves to improve the operational strengths of their firms,” said Russ Johnston, president of Business Insurance at Nationwide. “As part of that process, business owners should consult with industry-specific insurance partners to assure their commercial policies and risk mitigation strategies are keeping up with their needs now and in the future.”

The research found business owners adopting a proactive, hands-on approach to improve their company’s resiliency and meet the evolving needs of employees. They report implementing measures to mitigate risk and handle unforeseen circumstances, such as:

  • Proactively planning for potential crises (small – 53%; mid-market – 66%)
  • Implementing or updating their business continuity plan (small – 41%; mid-market – 63%)
  • Making structural repairs or improvements to their building/property (small – 31%; mid-market – 59%)

Most business owners feel prepared to navigate potential disruptions to their businesses (small – 65%; mid-market – 75%), including from events like a weather event or financial disruption.

Furthermore, business owners say they are investing in their workforce by providing additional benefits, such as increased compensation and improved retirement offerings. More than half (59%) of small and 80% of mid-market business owners are planning to or have already increased wages. About one third (32%) of small and 74% of mid-market business owners are planning to or have already improved retirement offerings.

Small Business Owners Fall Behind On Retirement And Succession Planning

Economic uncertainties have led many to delay retirement and reduce savings, highlighting the need for early planning and consistent saving...

Most business owners feel they are on track when it comes to being financially prepared for retirement. Nevertheless, they also report that within the last 12 months, they have pushed back their retirement timeline because they’re worried that they haven’t saved enough money to provide the income they will need in retirement (small – 57%; mid-market – 32%) or have had to reduce the amount they save due to current economic conditions (small – 40%; mid-market – 20%). Meanwhile, over 40% of all respondents reported that they are delaying retirement because they enjoy working.

When they are ready to retire, not all business owners have a clear succession plan in place. Only 30% of small business owners have a succession plan compared to 62% of mid-market business owners. Among those small business owners without a succession plan, almost one in four (24%) say they plan to close the business permanently when they retire.

The business owner journey also provides useful lessons for the entrepreneurs of the future and younger owners. When asked what advice they would most want to give their younger selves about planning for retirement, business owners were clear: First, start planning earlier (small – 52%; mid-market – 39%); and second, save more consistently (small – 47%; mid-market – 42%).

“Recognizing the challenges small business owners face in retirement and succession planning is vital. Economic uncertainties have led many to delay retirement and reduce savings, highlighting the need for early planning and consistent saving,” said Juan José Pérez, President of Nationwide Corporate Solutions. “Additionally, a significant number of business owners lack clear succession plans, with too many intending to close shop when they retire. With proper planning, the business, owner and its employees could be better served financially through options such as a sale or other form of transition with the help of the right partner. It’s critical that we support owners’ ability to plan proactively – with the help of a financial professional –to ensure a stable future for our business community.”

More findings from Nationwide’s 2024 Economic Impact survey can be found here.

 

 

 

Methodology
Nationwide commissioned Edelman Data & Intelligence (DXI) to conduct a nationally representative online survey 400 U.S. small business owners, 400 mid-market business owners and an oversample of business owners ages 60-65 nearing retirement (n = 100) from May 1-15, 2024.
About Nationwide
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified financial services and insurance organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; and pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

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