The 3 things keeping small business owners up at night.

Small business owners heading into 2018 have a lot to be happy about — but they’ve also got some major concerns about the continued success of their businesses.

Capital One polled small business owners about their hopes and fears, and here’s what the latest Small Business Growth Index has to say about their responses.

Positive Outlook

All told, small business owners feel good about their finances. Nearly half (47 percent) say their businesses’ sales rose in the past six months—the highest percentage recorded by the survey since the second quarter of 2013. Some 37 percent say their financial position has improved from one year ago, too.

But it’s not all sunshine. While small business owners are happy with their finances, they’re also wondering how long the good times will last. In fact, two of the top three concerns cited by entrepreneurs in the survey are financial in nature. 

Here’s a closer look at the fears giving keeping small business owners nightmares—and what you can do about it if you’re tossing and turning, too.


By far the number-one concern for small business owners is taxes. Nearly half (45 percent) of small business owners in the survey say taxes are a major worry for 2018. That’s not surprising, since 30 percent say tax regulations negatively affected their businesses last year.

Of course, taxes are never a small business owner’s favorite thing. But recent tax reforms, whose effects still haven’t been determined, might give entrepreneurs reason to worry about what their tax bite will be for 2018.

Sleep aid: Get a good accountant or tax preparer to help—this probably isn’t the year to prepare your own taxes. Talk to a tax professional who specializes in small businesses in your industry, and do it early: He or she can advise you about changes you can to make in 2018 to cut your tax bill.

Cash Flow

The second biggest concern entrepreneurs in the survey have is managing cash flow. Some 42 percent say this is a challenge for them, up 11 percent from last year’s survey.

Sleep aid: Start by keeping a close eye on your cash flow. Too many business owners don’t pay attention to their cash situation until they get close to the wire. Those in seasonal businesses, with thin margins, or with slow-paying customers, should review cash flow weekly or even daily. Always work to accelerate payments from customers while delaying your own payables—you’ll have more cash on hand that way.


Nearly one-third (32 percent) of small business owners in the survey say “keeping up with technology” is a major challenge, an increase of 7 percentage points from the same time in 2017. With so many new technologies affecting business, from artificial intelligence and chat bots to voice-activated assistants, it’s no wonder some entrepreneurs are struggling to keep up. But with businesses of all sizes and in all industries conducting more of their business online, it’s more important than ever to be current on how technology can help you succeed.

Sleep aid: Choose a reliable industry publication or website that covers technology related to your industry, and read it regularly. Not all the trends you read about will have a major impact on your business, but you’ll get a heads-up about those that could affect you. You may even want to hire an IT consultant to assess your current technology and recommend upgrades.

Speaking of recommendations, can you believe more than one-third (36 percent) of business owners in the survey don’t have a website? If you’re one of them, make getting a website your next move.

All entrepreneurs worry—it’s part of the game.  Fortunately, the experts at SCORE are here to ease your mind. They can help with everything from cash flow to technology and much, much more. Find your SCORE mentor today.


Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and