Small Business Owners Work Strange Hours

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:

small business owner work habits

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!

Read about the Staples small business survey.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

8 Reactions
  1. This is so true (I am “working” right now by going through all of my favorite business blogs and then I’ll be popping back to my Inbox!)… I work on weekends, evenings, holidays (I worked New Years Eve beginning at 2 AM because I was done with dinner and ringing in the New Year at that point) and everything in between.

    The beauty of it however is that I absolutely love what I do so it never feels like work but I think somewhere, we need to draw the line… 🙂

  2. I think this is not just problem for small business owners but for corporate job holders as well. Many corporate job holders have to work in their holidays. Because of internet and handheld gazettes people can not escape from their works. I think this is the curse of becoming tech savvy.

  3. Yes, it is crazy, isn’t it? Even if you don’t work DURING dinner, I know so many people who log on or answers emails in the evening AFTER dinner. Or they can’t sleep and get up and do emails in the middle of the night!

    And of course, logging in to your work system from home drives the IT folks and network administrators nuts. They see it as a breach of security. But people are doing it anyway, security issues or not.

  4. The crazy thing about this chart is….it doesn’t look crazy at all to me. It looks like my life!!!

    Our handmade soap business is also tourist based here in the Blue Ridge mountains. Our heaviest business times coincide with the most attractive times for friends and relatives to visit, like during Summer or leaf season. Festival booths we pay a lot of money for (because they are so lucrative in sales) are friend and relative magnets. Because to a non-small business owner, a weekend festival or 12 a day trade show is FUN – not work. But even after nearly ten years, our family members still don’t understand our strange hours, and strange schedule.

  5. Bad news! I went to a conference and the speaker said, “you know you’re in really trouble when your work IS your life.” I thought about how that was happening to me.
    If I don’t give my life time then I have no life to give to my work.
    The skills that get you ahead in business may not work in your personal relationships — which are important. Now when I don’t complete everything I know it will still be there tomorrow.
    This has restored my peace of mind and I have better family life! Next I’m working on being more productive and present during work time so I maximize what part of my life it is.
    My marriage failed partly because I was married to a small business owner who never had time for his family…so it’s a subject I’m pretty sensitive to.

  6. I agree- this looks like my life too!

    I did not feel this way when I worked for a large corporation. Now that I own a small business, I find that I work harder and longer than I ever imagined! Part of it is the struggling economy, I believe. To keep business, I feel like I need to return e-mails promplty and have a quick turnaround on products. Work ends up creeping into every aspect of life.