Small-business owners are faced with many personal and professional challenges, but despite those stumbling blocks, a majority of entrepreneurs are pleased with their decision to start their own companies.
A recent survey conducted by Biznik, a Seattle firm that supports and encourages small businesses and entrepreneurs, indicated the top reason that many owners go into business for themselves is that they want to do something they enjoy.
That result surprised Dan McComb, co-founder and former chief executive of Biznik.
“Most research shows that the No. 1 reason why people start businesses is simply because they don’t want to work for someone else,” he says. “But this survey showed that to be the No. 2 reason.”
Biznik typically conducts an annual survey of its 37,000 members, with the most recent focusing on the primary concerns and motivations of U.S. entrepreneurs. Nearly 1,000 small-business owners responded to the 58-question survey.
Sixty percent of the responders say they are satisfied with the performance of their business, while 91% say they are satisfied with their decision to work for themselves.
But while they are happy to have pursued their dream of ownership, nearly 500 of the small-business owners log more hours in an average workweek than when they were employed by someone else. Twenty-six percent work more than 50 hours each week.
A reduction in pay, feelings of isolation and lack of healthcare benefits are additional cons listed by the responders.
McComb says he wanted to identify the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face, but also what motivates them.
Sponsored by iStockphoto, the survey was created by Mina Yoo, a professor at the Foster School of Business at University of Washington. Yoo's detailed questionnaire helped clarify trends previously noted by Biznik personnel, McComb says.
“Over the summer, we interviewed nearly 300 entrepreneurs for a documentary film I’m making about entrepreneurship, and some themes emerged. We wanted to do a more scientific survey to see if those themes were backed up with real numbers,” he says.
Half of the respondents say their current business is slightly different from the business they started, while 13% say there is a significant difference. To stay ahead of the competition, small-business owners rely heavily on networking (89%), whereas 87% turn to Web sites and blogs.
Nearly half, 46%, use professional or trade organizations as their source for professional development.
In addition, 45% say social-media tools are very or somewhat effective in advancing their businesses. More than half (53%) use social media daily or weekly, and 12% say they use social media at least monthly.
Although all the entrepreneurs surveyed may not view the results as an instant catalyst for change, McComb predicts that, over time, some may take to heart the information and use it to improve their own companies.
“I don't think people often change the way they do business just from reading about other companies. Rather I think it has a cumulative effect,” he says. “If you read about one company, you think ‘Hmm, that’s interesting.’ Then you read about another, and another, and finally it begins to change your behavior, especially when you see things in your own experience that back up the experience of others.”
To view the entire survey results, visit http://tinyurl.com/ybt7lbg.