36 Percent of Small Business Owners Feel Optimistic – Do You?

small business owners feel

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

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

11 Reactions
  1. Under the current scenario not only small but big business houses feels optimistic, that is why it has become important to take up the growth level or financial stability, which can help in eliminating such feel.

  2. Hi Rieva,

    My answer:

    Kind of.

    I’m still concerned about small business loan availability and minimum wage issues.

    But, I’m hopeful 🙂

    The Franchise King®

  3. I’m optimistic too, but it’s because of the things my company is doing, not because of the government, or banks, or the economy.

    • Martin Lindeskog


      I hear you! I am optimistic about this year, with a start-up, participation in some new online ventures, etc.

      But I am pessimistic about today’s financial situation, fiat currency bubble, poor commander in chief, and so on…

      I am optimistic that things will change with better ideas spreading around. 🙂

  4. When you get into business you have to be optimistic because challenges, failure and disappointments happen. When you’re not, then you’ll give up without realising the true potential you and your business have.

  5. I think I may have read a similar article. I guess this optimism is not only based on what is happening on the environment. I think that it is somehow innate. After all, you cannot run a good business without optimism. You need a dose of it everyday to keep on moving forward no matter what happens.

  6. I feel optimistic, too. I am certain that success in any field of business (of wherever we belong) begins in our thinking, because that motivates us to persevere even if we are surrounded with difficulty or challenges.

  7. I believe most small business owners continue to be cautiously optimistic. This could be supported by 77 percent of those surveyed want to remain small. I fully agree that not all small business owners are exactly alike, but I do believe most are entrepreneurial and thus by nature are not risk-adverse. It would be interesting to understand why they want to remain small as compared to the 23 percent that potentially want to expand/grow.

    A Constant Contact survey from last year indicated that it is tougher to run a business now than five years ago. The economy, keeping pace with technology, and direct competition appeared to be the biggest factors. I believe these factors might cause small business owners to take a more cautious approach to expanding and growing their business; however, even with these factors, small business owners, according to the survey, did increase their customer base and many customers spent more money. This is as a good a reason as any to be optimistic.

    This is a great piece of information. I hope the full survey will provide additional details. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Really interesting insights from the survey. Though the low optimism from business owners (the 37%) is from all the uncertainty floating around. Business owners are holding on to a lot of cash, and afraid to hire or expand because of the recession. I also think the whole health care deal in the US is playing a huge role in that uncertainty. Until there’s more ‘certainty’ on the outlook of things with the economy/government, you’re not going to see that number rise a whole lot.

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