A new survey finds that 77 percent of business owners say they started their companies to provide for their families, yet less than half of them feel confident with their current financial situation.

More than a quarter (28 percent) of the over 1,600 business owners in the U.S. surveyed by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company for its study, Business Owner Perspectives: 2011 Insights in an Uncertain Economy, said that it is all they can do to keep up with everyday business expenses, let alone think too much about their future.

The study examined business owners’ thoughts about both their personal and business finances. MassMutual also surveyed multicultural and women business owners.

Almost 40 percent of business owners who participated in the study said they plan to retire at age 66 or older, but only a third have formal retirement income strategies in place mapping out how to manage their income during retirement. Less than half of the survey respondents were confident they were doing a good job of preparing financially for their retirement.

Lacking a plan, especially in a family-run business, can cause stress for family members and even cost employees their jobs. For instance, 38 percent of those surveyed said they would leave the business to a child, yet a child may be unwilling or unable to properly manage the business, forcing a sale at an unfavorable time or even forcing the business to close.

“Entrepreneurial businesses are vital to our economic recovery, so it is concerning that so many business owners seem to be sacrificing their own and their family’s financial future,” said Tara Reynolds, corporate vice president of consumer and product marketing at MassMutual, in a statement. “With help, business owners can look past the seemingly overwhelming day-to-day demands of running their businesses and establish and meet their long-term financial goals.”

The top business concern of owners who participated in the study was keeping key employees loyal, with 53 percent expressing this concern. However, only 30 percent said they have special benefits in place to help ensure employees who are integral to the business’ survival remain loyal and with the company.

Only four in 10 business owners said they realize it is very important to know what their business is worth right now, and 43 percent of business owners have not had their businesses valued in the past three years.

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