Small Business Owners: Survey Says Yes, They Are Happy

small business owners survey

While the media frequently paints a picture of the average small business owner as a stressed-out workaholic, slave to the smartphone and run ragged by the never-ending demands of his or her company, the reality is quite different. According to the first annual Yodle Small Business Sentiment Survey, small business owners are enjoying a pretty decent work-life balance, they’re working reasonable hours, taking vacations and generally loving what they do.

The small business owners survey of businesses with 20 or fewer employees found a whopping 91 percent are happy being small business owners, with 55 percent saying they’re “extremely happy.”

It’s No Wonder: More than half (52 percent) of small business owners say they work 40 hours or less per week, and 72 percent take at least two weeks of vacation annually. In fact, 27 percent take four or more weeks of vacation.

Of course, not everyone in the survey is living that large. About four in 10 (39 percent) work 41 to 60 hours per week. Still, the percentage of respondents who are living up to the stereotype of the crazy-busy entrepreneur is very small. Only 9 percent work more than 60 hours a week, and just 11 percent say they never take a vacation.

That doesn’t mean all is sunshine and rainbows in the world of the entrepreneur. In terms of their personal lives, small business owners’ biggest worries are:

  • Being able to afford healthcare (48 percent).
  • Putting aside enough money for retirement (46 percent).
  • Being able to provide an adequate lifestyle for their family (33 percent).

On a professional level, the top three business concerns keeping small business owners up at night are:

  • Finding new customers (42 percent).
  • Being able to afford healthcare and other employee benefits (39 percent).
  • Retaining current customers (33 percent).

Overall, 59 percent of business owners say they definitely wouldn’t or were unlikely to consider selling their companies in the next few years. One-fourth indicated they “might” sell “if they could get a fair price.”

Do these attitudes jibe with yours?

If not, here are a few suggested changes that could make you change your outlook:

Cut Yourself Some Slack

If you’ve been working day and night thinking that’s just what entrepreneurs do, it’s time to stop. Figure out ways to take time off to recharge your batteries. It doesn’t have to be a month-long sabbatical – even taking an afternoon off now and then can be enough to renew your love of your business.

Start small and build up to a real vacation – you deserve it.

Plan Ahead

Small business owners have to live with uncertainty, that’s the nature of the beast. You’ll never be able to be 100 percent certain of your income. But then, neither will the average corporate employee, right?

The difference is that you have the ability to take matters into your own hands. Take steps to feel more secure by figuring out how to put money away both for short-term needs (like a sales slump) and for your future. Meet with a financial adviser and talk to your accountant if you haven’t already.

Get Ready for Obamacare

Six in 10 respondents believe the Affordable Care Act’s implementation will have a negative effect on small business. While much of the outcome remains unknown, don’t hide your head in the sand. Start now and investigate insurance exchanges in your state. Talk to your insurance provider and accountant about what changes you’ll need to make, what your options are and how this will affect your business.

By being proactive rather than reactive, you’ll feel more positive about you and your business’s future and your ability to handle whatever life hands you.

Happy 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.

23 Reactions
  1. I think that this is not as surprising given the fact that as long as a company has less employees, the business owner experiences less stress. The bigger it becomes, the more revenue it generates but it also becomes more complicated.

    • Thanks Aira. Not sure happiness is dependent on number of employees you have. More or less complicated perhaps. But I know plenty of happy business owners with more than a few employees.

  2. Thanks for this great info.

    I’m in the 39%.

    I’ve been cutting back a bit, though. More hours doesn’t always mean more revenue.

    The Franchise King®

  3. I didn’t get to participate in the survey, but yes, I am happy too. I wouldn’t have it any other way, sure some times are rough and the days might be occasionally long, but in the end it’s all worth it to me.

  4. Rieva,

    An interesting survey, indeed. I understand that optimism is rising among small business owners, but it’s surprising to know that the figure is that significant.

    Expect good things to happen when your outlook is positive 🙂

  5. Ha ha ha, Rieva.

    I had to laugh at this phrase:

    “While the media frequently paints a picture of the average small business owner as a stressed-out workaholic, slave to the smartphone and run ragged by the never-ending demands of his or her company…”

    I identify with that sometimes.

    Yet, I feel happy and fulfilled, despite sometimes being under pressure.

    – Anita

  6. 52% are working 40 hours or less? I’m on the wrong side of that statistic. #dangit

  7. I think most of us are Robert. Likely the ones who aren’t are the same business owners who don’t have websites 🙂

  8. Rieva:

    I happy to read about the this survey. I am striving for happiness. Talking about this topic, have you watched the movie, “Happyness”?

  9. Happiness is what you make it. Small business owners of course have plenty more stress to deal with than usual but if you have money problems get a small business loan. Simple.

  10. Is this a self-fulfilling prophesy? Think about it for a moment – if you are a small business owner you will always be optimistic that things will get better – otherwise, what’s the point of being in business? Get a job.

  11. I think Kieran that one of the attributes of successful small business owners is optimism. And no Martin I have not seen the movie. Claire, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most business owners would say it’s “simple” to get a small business loan.

  12. I’m definitely part if that 55 percent saying they’re “extremely happy.” After years of slogging away in the corporate nightmare, I now get to work on my li’l software company from home, outsource the parts of my business that I don’t excel at, and all is indeed well.

    To those who haven’t quite made it yet, hang in there! Good things do really come to those who wait.

  13. Good to hear you’re happy Robert. And good advice for those who are still aspiring

  14. Kent: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?
    Homer: Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Fourteen percent of all people know that.