Given the way people and politicians talk about us, you might think all small business owners are exactly alike, with the same motivations, goals and challenges. Of course we small business owners know that’s not true, and a sneak peak from the Infusionsoft 2014 Small Business Market Survey, conducted in partnership with Audience Audit, proves it [the full survey will be released in the coming weeks].
Half the small business owners surveyed were Infusionsoft  customers and half were not, and apparently that fact influenced their outlook. The survey found four types of business owners—those driven by passion, freedom, financial security and hard work.
The small business owners who are motivated by passion, also share some other characteristics. They are optimistic, altruistic and customer-centric. They consider themselves creators and entrepreneurial. Most (91 percent) say “doing what they love” is an important goal. A little more than one-third of Infusionsoft customers fall into this category, while only 15 percent of small business owners in general are driven by passion.
About one-quarter (26 percent) of Infusionsoft customers and 21 percent of general small business owners agree that “small business is about freedom.” For these folks being able to lead the “lifestyle” of their choice is paramount. They want flexibility and started their businesses to gain control over their lives, to be independent and escape from corporate jobs.
Not surprisingly the biggest percentage of the general small business population (40 percent) say “small business is about financial security,” while 15 percent of Infusionsoft customers feel the same way. These business owners identify with being practical, calculated, ethical and economical.
Then there are the hard workers. Essentially, the same percentage of Infusionsoft customers and general small business owners (25 percent and 24 percent respectively) believe small business is hard work. Unfortunately, these business owners don’t seem to be happy. Instead, they feel afflicted, unappreciated, challenged, concerned and apprehensive.
What’s particularly interesting is those surveyed seem to represent the backbone of American businesses. Most (77 percent) have less than 5 employees, and want to remain small. They’re also managing their businesses alone. In fact, more than 80 percent are handling sales, product development and marketing on their own.
In addition to that, over half (well over half in some cases) are also managing their admin, HR, finance and IT operations by themselves. That’s a lot to handle, a lot to be responsible for. It’s no wonder then that 70 percent struggle to do it all and say finding the “time to get everything done is my top challenge.” To handle all that, the business owners surveyed value balance and believe it’s “extremely important” to live the life they want.
Operationally, 72 percent of the business owners understand that being successful “requires acumen, focus and insight.” Customer referrals are the primary way they generate leads (cited by 80 percent of Infusionsoft customers and 63 percent of the general small business market), with social media coming in second for both groups. Content comes in third for Infusionsoft users, followed by networking (which general small business owners cited as third) and SEO.
Despite all their challenges, the small business owners surveyed are generous (45 percent of Infusionsoft customers mentor other small businesses) and optimistic with 82 percent of Infusionsoft customers and 36 percent of other small business owners expecting revenues to increase in 2014.
Owners  Photo via Shutterstock