New Survey of Family Businesses Reveals Strengths and Challenges Ahead

Family business are key drivers of economic development, but taxes and regulations hinder growth

A new survey finds that family businesses across America, while optimistic about growth in 2017, continue to be burdened by costs associated with government regulation, tax policy and other external factors. These, and other findings, are highlighted in Family Enterprise USA’s 2017 Annual Family Business Survey, an important benchmark on the opportunities and challenges as seen by leaders of the family business community.

The fifth annual survey of family-owned businesses found that 76 percent experienced revenue growth in 2016, but a significant two-thirds responded that it is harder to operate their businesses today versus five years ago. In fact, a mere eight percent of respondents felt that operating a family business is easier today than in 2013.

“Family business leaders are telling us loud and clear that the need is great for comprehensive tax reform and re-thinking the burdensome regulations that make it harder to hire new employees,” said Mike Hamra, Board Chair of Family Enterprise USA. “Family businesses are a vital part of our nation’s economy and it is critical that policy support these organizations and create an environment for them to thrive.”

The survey responses illustrate the importance of family-owned businesses in driving economic growth and positive community engagement. Of survey respondents, 72 percent have plans to hire more employees in 2017, up from 66 percent in 2016. Beyond creating jobs, family businesses are dedicated supporters of their local communities. Almost 90 percent of respondents donate money to one or more charitable organizations, with seven in 10 serving on boards and volunteering personal time.

While internal factors pose some challenges to family businesses, nearly eight in 10 respondents point to external factors such as tax policy and government regulation as the greatest threat to their businesses. Among the highest priorities for family business leadership are reducing income taxes, reducing regulations and reducing or eliminating estate taxes.

Family Enterprise USA retained Family Office Exchange (FOX) to coordinate participant outreach and administer the 2017 FEUSA Family Business Survey. This report captures data from 186 family-owned businesses that completed the online survey from February 23 to March 17, 2017.

For the complete survey report, visit

About Family Enterprise USA

Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA), a 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to educating the public about the implications of public policy upon closely held and family-owned businesses. FEUSA conducts non-partisan research that highlights the contributions of family enterprises to the economy and the challenges these businesses face, which is then used to educate. This research provides the foundation for FEUSA to educate the public and opinion leaders on the important role of family businesses in the economy and local communities. For more information, visit