Writing a weekly Q & A column as I do for USA TODAY, I necessarily hear from a lot of small business owners. They share their questions, concerns, dreams, wins, losses, and what have you. One thing I have learned over the years is that they are a passionate, hard working, committed, creative lot. Small business owners love what they do.
And, by the same token, I also get to work with a lot of large companies; companies who are committed to our small business success, such as, for example, the businesses behind this site – Allstate, Web.com, Capital One, LegalZoom, Microsoft, and Office Depot. Companies like these create great tools and products designed to make our lives as small business owners better, easier, more productive, and more profitable.
When you combine all of that with the fact that, today, entrepreneurs are the stars of the business world, what you get, I often say, is that this is the greatest time ever to be a small business person.
And it turns out I am not alone in thinking that.
You do too.
In a first-of-its-kind study of America’s small business sector released today, the Allstate/USA TODAY Small Business Barometer revealed that a majority of entrepreneurs also believe that between rapid innovation and an improving economy, this is indeed “the best time ever to own a small business.”
Now that’s what I’m talking about.
As a small business writer, a lot of surveys about small business naturally come across my desk (actually, enter my inbox), but this one is different. This first Allstate/USA TODAY Small Business Barometer not only surveyed more than 2,600 small business owners (a very large sampling), it combined this data with a comprehensive catalog of public data, resulting is some very solid, and fascinating numbers and insights:
For starters, the Barometer revealed that, right now, small business owners are very optimistic and confident, with more than half saying that there has never been a better time to own a small business. And, not only that, but another great thing to note is that this optimism was especially high among women (85%) and minorities (92%).
One reason for all of this optimism is that business is booming. 80% of survey respondents reported that their business has grown over the course of the past year. Indeed, 60% said that their business is doing “well or very well” and almost a third said that they were panning on hiring within the next three months.
And, while I love seeing all of this optimism, the Allstate/ USA TODAY Small Business Barometer revealed one other insight that was, to me, probably the most interesting and yet the least surprising:
Employees work for all sorts of reasons, right? Of course a main reason is that they want to make money. But it’s not just that. Employees work also to be engaged, to make a difference, and to learn new skills. Employees have many motivations.
But why does an entrepreneur go to work? Why do they start small businesses? It’s for the money too, right?
In fact (and here’s the interesting part), the survey revealed that only about 20% of small business owners cite money as a key motivator. It turns out that one reason this is the greatest time ever to be a small business owner is that entrepreneurship today is an incredibly rewarding experience:
- Nearly half of small business owners say that being their own boss gives them “tremendous enjoyment.”
- Other motivations include “being my own boss,” “having a sense of freedom,” “following my passion,” and “creating something on my own.”
And so yes, while small business owners no doubt need to make a profit, it turns out that the real reasons someone becomes successful in business is that they take all of the tools now available to them (like many of the ones you can find on this site) and use them to create a business that is fun, interesting, creative, profitable, and unique.
So yes, it turns out that this really is a great time to be in small business.