As small business owners our work hours are increasingly encroaching into personal time, and we are working nontraditional hours. Evenings, weekends, holidays, while driving — even bathroom time is no longer sacred.
A recent Staples survey of U.S. business owners with 1 to 20 employees, shows just how crazy our hours are. This chart that I created from the survey results tells the sad tale:
Two thirds of us are working on evenings and weekends and holidays. Forty-nine percent (49%) of us work while driving. And almost one in five of us (18%) deal with business emails and messages in the bathroom.
The implications for vendors and service providers that serve the small business market are significant.
Self-serve websites and phone-activated systems that enable us to conduct business on our own schedules are an absolute must. Follow-me phone service and mobile gadgets become de rigueur, lest we miss something while we are supposedly on personal time. Service providers have to be reachable after hours — because if they are not making themselves available to us, their competition is.
Entire new categories of services and devices have arisen to notify us immediately when we have messages. In other words, we now get messages to tell us we have messages!