If you’re a small business owner you probably know two things to be true:
Small business is not always the easiest road.
As an entrepreneur you are often misunderstood.
This year, nearly 850 American small business owners—with 25 or fewer employees—responded to an anonymous online survey administered by Audience Audit™. The 2014 Small Business Market Survey dug deeper than traditional demographics, this survey was aimed at truly understanding the challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurs. When the analysis was complete, the survey data highlighted and countered 8 pervasive myths about small business owners and the state of entrepreneurship today. We found that entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly optimistic, altruistic, diverse and determined and—contrary to potpular belief—motivated by far more than money.
Myth No. 1: Entrepreneurs are in it for a quick buck.
Truth: Small business owners are in it for the long haul. Contrary to popular opinion, the typical entrepreneur is NOT churning and burning through businesses, flipping them like pancakes to turn a fast profit. Entrepreneurs are a tenacious bunch: The reality is that a full 41 percent of small business owners surveyed have owned their business for more than ten years, and an additional 20 percent have been devoted to the same business for 6 years or more.Entrepreneurs never say die: Even more telling, only 35 percent of these entrepreneurs have ever considered closing their business, and despite the difficulties of the recent economic climate, a mere 32 percent have ever considered selling. Entrepreneurs are devoted to both their business and small business in general: 45 percent of business owners reported that they had no intention of ever returning to corporate life and 68 percent report feelings of optimism about company prospects over the next five years.
Myth No. 2: Entrepreneurs are corporate dropouts.
Truth: Small business owners have a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit. The notion that they are failures who start their business as a last ditch survival effort because couldn’t cut it in a ‘real’ job is a misconception. In truth, it is an inborn spirit of independence and creativity that leads them to this path. Entrepreneurs are born:42 percent of small business owners report ALWAYS knowing they would one day own their own business and an additional 28 percent thought that entrepreneurship was a possibility. Only 3 percent of surveyed small business owners thought they would never wear the entrepreneurial hat. Entrepreneurs are more than satisfied: A majority feel that their attitude and outlook (68 percent) and the free time they have available for family and friends (63 percent) are better than if they held a traditional job. Entrepreneurs are succeeding: 59 percent of survey respondents anticipate a higher gross revenue in 2014 than in the past year.Entrepreneurs choose their path. Only 10 percent reported believing that most people start their business because they couldn’t find a regular job.
Myth No. 3: Entrepreneurs are driven by dollar signs.
Truth: Turns out it’s NOT all about the money. The image of entrepreneurs as greedy scrooges with visions of dollar signs driving their dreams couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, it is the dream itself—of flexibility, autonomy, and passion—that drives the small business owner forward. Entrepreneurs are driven by the dream: 91 percent of those surveyed agree that the best reason to start your own business is to do what you love and 93 percent feel that the passion is one of the most important qualities for a small business owner to possess.Entrepreneurs are motivated by flexibility and autonomy: 83 percent responded that a flexible schedule and career and environmental control are among to top reasons for choosing to own a small business. Only 28 percent responded that making more money is the primary driving force in owning their own business.
Myth No. 4: Entrepreneurs are self-absorbed.
Truth: Entrepreneurs are altruistic. The view of small business owners as selfish and inwardly focused is not reflective of the real world. In reality, entrepreneurs are generous, community driven and dedicated to the success of others.Entrepreneurs give back: 38 percent donate funds to community charitable organizations and an additional 31 percent are giving their time by volunteering in their community. Small business owners are also giving of their time and expertise by mentoring other small business owners and students and sponsoring community events. Entrepreneurs are externally focused: 91 percent believe that small business are an important part of job creation and 62 percent believe that small business are a source of the most valuable innovations. Just over half (59 percent) report that focus on supporting small business is a factor in vendor choice.
Myth No. 5: Entrepreneurs are young tech geeks.
Truth: Entrepreneurs are older, wiser and way more diverse. You know the stereotype? The twenty-something tech prodigy who lacks social skills, holed up in his parents basement and cranking out code like a madman. Turns out, he’s not representative of the whole picture. Entrepreneurs have the wisdom of experience: 83 percent of small business owners surveyed are between 34 and 68 years old. Entrepreneurs do way more than write code: Only 8 percent of surveyed small business owners offer software, computer or IT services. The remaining 92 percent are a diverse group that includes everything from business coaching to health and beauty services to dog sitting.
Myth No. 6: Entrepreneurs are lone wolves.
Truth: Entrepreneurs stay connected to family and community. The mythical loner entrepreneur may exist, but far more often the small business owner is living and working in connection to others. Entrepreneurs are not alone: 70 percent of respondents are married or living with a partner and 54 percent have children or other family members living with them. 83 percent ranked flexibility to spend time with my family as an important goal for their small business. Entrepreneurs lean on one another: 65 percent of small business owners surveyed reported personal relationships with other business owners in similar companies are the most valuable resource in helping to manage their business. Entrepreneurs have a team: 55 percent of small business owners have at least one employee, and 10 percent of those surveyed reported employing 11 or more individuals.
Myth No. 7: Entrepreneurs have it all figured out.
Truth: Entrepreneurs are life-long learners: Small business owners are always focused on learning and growing. By necessity, most small business owners must wear so many hats and often share the same struggles, even across diverse industries. Entrepreneurs need help getting people in the door: 66 percent of entrepreneurs need help attracting more customers, 55 percent with customer referrals, and 47 percent with using social media to market their business.Entrepreneurs seek continued education: 54 percent of small business owners seek help in business management from seminars and workshops, while 51 percent rely on online industry experts and 50 percent depend on business books. Just over one-third (37 percent) have hired a mentor or coach, while an additional 43 percent have signed up for entrepreneurship education or training programs.
Myth No. 8: Entrepreneurs are mavericks on a crazy whim.
Truth: Entrepreneurs have a plan and they are sticking to it. Being a small business owner requires a fair bit of thinking on your toes, a dash of MacGyver genius and a willingness to take risks—but small business owners are also utilizing organization, tools and guidance to get the job done. Entrepreneurs know the value of working smarter, not harder: 72 percent have harnessed the power of customer referrals to grow their business. The majority are also social media and email marketing rock stars, with 57 percent and 56 percent respectfully reporting that these tools are helping generate leads. Entrepreneurs know the power of analytics: 58 percent are using metrics such as website performance, financial performance vs. budget and online marketing performance to drive business decision making.