Business Owners Rushing to Retire, Survey Finds

Falling confidence and rising technology costs are driving early exits.

More business owners are rushing to retire amid increased pessimism about the future of the U.S. economy and rising technology costs, says a recent study.

The Wilmington Trust Business Owners’ Outlook found the pandemic has wreaked havoc on business owners, with their confidence dropping almost 30% in less than a year.  The study found that roughly half of owners expect lower or flat revenue this year compared with before the pandemic.

Since August 2020, the number of owners of larger businesses planning to retire sooner than expected jumped 110%, while the number of owners of smaller companies expressing that sentiment doubled, according to a press release on the study.

Another challenge has been increasing expenditures on technology. During the pandemic, one-third of entrepreneurs have increased their investments, with most spending on e-commerce (39%), overall tech equipment/infrastructure (38%), social media (33%) and digital advertising (28%).

Fewer respondents were confident that they could pass their business on to a successor. In March 2020, half were very confident that their personal and business assets would be well managed if they were to die or become incapacitated, versus only 34% in the latest survey.

The study surveyed 1,007 business owners nationally with $1 million or more in annual revenue. It was conducted between January 25 and February 10.

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