Growth / Personal Development

So How Do Entrepreneurs Spend Their Time and Money?

Ellis Friedman

Updated: Jun 14, 2019 · 4 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

People sitting around a chalk drawing of a light bulb.They are creating ideas together.

Full disclosure: Most of the content of this post is unlikely to surprise you, but if there’s one thing I know about people, it’s that we love to compare ourselves to each other, and today I present you with the data with which you can compare yourself to other small businesses. 

We gathered this data in our 2015 Small Business Sales & Marketing Survey.  That’s the business-y way of saying we took a survey of small business owners and asked them about sales and marketing. And there’s some pretty interesting stuff in here about how small businesses spend their time, money and energy that we thought you might like to see.

Where leads are generated offline

Pretend there was no internet for a moment (I know, was there ever such a time?). Where would small businesses get their leads? As you can see in the graphic below, the majority of offline lead generating activities are directed toward customer referrals or word of mouth.  

Keep in mind that this doesn’t tell us the sources from which leads are converting, just the most popular approaches to lead generation, though it’s probably safe to say that savvy businesspeople are investing in the activities that have paid off in the past.

Resources you can use:

5 Steps to Getting More Customers With Referrals

The most effective sales and marketing strategies

Remember what I said up there about how lead gen activities don’t show us the activities that convert?

Envelope please, because here are the marketing strategies small businesses find the most effective:

Resources you can use:

5 Golden Rules for An Effective Sales Email

Marketing budgets   

Marketing is one of those things that takes a while to find the sweet spot for return on investment, and there are a lot of entrepreneurs who put the marketing budget on the lower end of the priority list, which, over the long term, can be detrimental to your sales and visibility. 

Our survey found that 43 percent of entrepreneurs are spending $200 a month or less on their marketing budgets. 33 percent spend between $200 and $1,000, and only 24 percent spend more than $1,000 a month on marketing.

When it comes to a time investment on marketing, we discovered something interesting: whether entrepreneurs were solo practitioners or they had up to 50 employees, they still took on a lot of the marketing responsibilities.

Resources you can use:

Marketing to Young Consumers Without Breaking the Bank

Sales responsibilities

While most entrepreneurs are highly involved in marketing, the overwhelming majority – a whopping 83 percent – are also responsible for sales activities. Even for businesses with five or more employees, 69 percent of respondents said they still do sales themselves. While 52 percent of them said they also have employees who do sales as well, it’s pretty clear that even when businesses hire employees, the founders are still actively involved in the day-to-day operations.

Resources you can use:

Loved and hated tasks

How do you feel about handling customer service? What about finance or HR tasks? Chances are you don’t love everything about carrying out the day-to-days of a small business, and you’re not alone. 

Taking a look at the chart above, we can see that the most generally dreaded activity is finance, followed by human resources tasks and administrative tasks. So it seems that in general, entrepreneurs are not fond of paper work, which should surprise exactly no one.

Resources you can use:

Customer Service is Over - WOW Your Customers

The biggest challenges

I bet we can all guess the top huge challenge small business owners cite: “time to get everything done.” 

Resources you can use:

The 13 Best Productivity Apps, Tools and Methods

The Art of Writing and Completing Your To Do List

While the data may not be surprising to small business owners, it might prove illuminating to those who work with or count small businesses as clients. How do you and your business line up with our survey results? 


Was this post helpful?
Illustration of Keap growth handbook
How can you grow your business to the next level? Take our assessment to find out.

The Small Business Growth Assessment will reveal where you are on your path to growth and help you identify common pitfalls so you can avoid them. Plus, you’ll get FREE curated resources to get you to the next stage.

Take the assessment

You may also like

{{ deSlug(record.displayCategory || record.secondaryCategory || record.primaryCategory || '') }} | min read

Knowledge is power, get some more...

Hello, have a question? Let's chat.

Got it