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Does Small Business Ownership Really Provide Freedom of Lifestyle? Survey Says…

small business ownership lifestyle

For many people, the idea of “being your own boss” is part of the American Dream. As a small business owner, you can set your own schedule, take time off when needed, and have full control of your lifestyle — in theory, at least.

What Motivates Small Business Owners?

In November 2015, Credibly conducted a survey of over 1,400 small business owners, asking them, “What was your primary motivation to start a business?” 42.3% answered that the “ability to choose my own lifestyle and manage my own time” was their primary motivator.[1]

The desire for freedom of lifestyle skews even higher for women and younger business owners. 45.2% of female survey respondents selected it as their primary motivation for starting their business, compared to 39.9% of male business owners.

Among business owners aged 25-34, a full 52.14% reported that “ability to choose my own lifestyle and manage my own time” was the main driver for starting their businesses.

Expectation vs. Reality

But does the dream of business ownership match up to the reality? When asked “What is your biggest challenge as a business owner?,” the second-most popular response was “Not enough time to do everything,” with 20.3% of survey respondents reporting time management as their biggest challenge.[2]

“Not enough time” was the biggest concern for owners of manufacturing companies — 26.9% selected it as their biggest challenge — and it was a slightly more popular response for female entrepreneurs (21.4%) compared to male entrepreneurs (19.4%).

credibly small business survey biggest challenge not enough time chart

Speak to any small business owner, and you’ll get an earful about the long, grueling hours involved with “being your own boss.” According to Don Jaeger, co-owner of Next Level Health & Fitness and the Mack Athletic Complex:

“As a business owner, I don’t have a time clock. If I have to stay late because there’s something that needs to get done, it falls on my partner and I’s shoulders. There are a lot of times where we miss time with our friends and our family, and that is by far the toughest thing. The amount of time that you put in makes a 40-hour work week look real nice.”

Does Business Ownership Really Provide Freedom of Lifestyle?

So let this be a reality check for budding business owners who hope that small business ownership will give them more “freedom” than they’d have as an employee of someone else’s company: It’s hard to consistently manage your time when you’re the one who has to put out the fires.

Fortunately, the rewards outweigh the challenges if you’re doing something you truly love. “When you work for yourself, you will work harder than you ever imagined,” Jaeger explains, “and you’ll also feel more proud about what you do than you ever have before.”

credibly small business owner mindset survey insights

[1] The second-most common answer was the ability “to do the work I love,” which was chosen by 30.6% of survey respondents. Just 22.01% of small business owners reported that their biggest motivation was “to build a profitable business.”

credibly small business survey biggest motivation revenue chart

[2] The most popular response to this question was “Staffing / hiring the right people,” which was chosen by 20.9% of total respondents. Business owners from the health care/insurance industry led the pack for this answer, with 31.6% of them selecting staffing as their biggest challenge.