Small businesses are a major part of the economy but we tend to overlook the stressors that keep awake at night the people who own and run these businesses.

With small businesses employing almost 17 per cent of the U.S. workforce (around 21 million people), this is a dangerous oversight.

To fill this knowledge gap and provide a forum for small business owners to voice their concerns, we conducted a survey to discover the problems they are most concerned with.

Our survey was tailored to the concerns of the smallest business owners in America— those with less than 20 workers. The outcome, the Nuage Digital 2020 Small Business Worry List, takes a deep dive into their current attitudes and details their biggest fears for 2020.

Top concerns for small business owners include:

  1. Economy

It’s no surprise that small business owners consider the economy as their top concern, because recessions typically strike small businesses hardest. When the public reduces spending during an economic downturn, the first thing small businesses experience is the financial impact. Even though we are experiencing a historically strong economy right now, uncertain trade regulations and the upcoming election year are causing concern. In fact, more than a third of our respondents (35 per cent) said they were particularly concerned about tariff impacts and how changes would affect their businesses in 2020.

  1. Cash Flow

Economy worries feed on cash flow issues, the second-highest worry for small business owners. Small businesses are especially attuned to their cash flow performance, so owners note when even the slightest financial issue comes up. Even more questions about cash flow raise concerns over payroll coverage. About 1 in 4 owners said they’re concerned about covering payroll at some point in 2020, from our survey— which puts over 5 million Americans at risk of missing a paycheck next year.

  1. Tax

Tax code and laws are complicated and generally involve improvements in minutes each year. The fickle nature of tax regulations forces small business owners to keep close tabs on the changes themselves without the built-out financial teams of larger organizations. Once the tax season rolls around, keeping track of these changes can cause some serious headaches.

Such issues are more than a burden on the job for small business owners. These also make their way into the personal lives of business owners, impacting such issues as family relationships, interests and personal health. However, the iceberg’s economy, cash flow, and tax regulations are just the tip— technology, pricing, and hiring are also concerns. And their worry level only rises as owners look to the future.