Small Business Owners: Keeping the American Dream Alive

small business and the american dream

Sometimes small business owners can feel besieged. Big businesses have advertising and marketing budgets that dwarf their total yearly receipts. The corporate honchos and their high-salaried lobbyists have the ear of our lawmakers. Politicians only seem to care about small businesses during election cycles.

But despite swimming upstream against these insanely strong currents, small business owners remain an upbeat and optimistic bunch, and a recent study by OnDeck captures these great qualities. Here’s what they say in their quarterly Main Street Pulse Report.

Living the American Dream. 81 percent of those surveyed by OnDeck reported that they left a 9-to-5 corporate gig to start and build their own businesses. They kicked the corporate habit for three basic reasons:

  • More money,
  • Greater flexibility, and
  • Ability to pursue their passions.

Some small business owners may assume that there’s more money to be made by climbing up the corporate leadership ladder. I think that those who leave the corporate world to join the entrepreneurship crowd understand that real money comes with ownership. If they create a good company, they are creating value far beyond what they are able to take out in terms of a monthly salary. When they sell at retirement or after they have their startup pointed in the right direction, the payout can be significant.

Getting ’er done. It’s tempting to think that the American work ethic is an endangered species. This study proves that it’s alive and well among small business owners. More than two-thirds work over 50 hours a week. Nine out of 10 put in time on weekends and 80 percent aren’t finished with work when they leave the office.

Are small business owners workaholics? Yes, sometimes. But when you’re pursuing a passion and know the value you’re creating, it’s not the same as feeling you’re merely a cog in a big, impersonal corporate wheel. By the way, small business owners work this hard because their top priority is to grow their businesses.

Further, eight out of 10 small business owners are committed to helping their communities. This shows that they are “connected” and that’s something humans need to experience true happiness and fulfillment. Let me put it this way: small business ownership is personal.

The money follows. I’ve touched on the fact that small business owners are creating value and that’s reflected in the survey. Some 65 percent say that they are in a better financial situation than if they were working for someone else. They say that the hard work and sacrifices are worth it and they have no regrets.

And while we know that a good number of Americans believe that their work-life balance is out of whack, at least half of all small business owners say they’re doing just fine in that department.

We get a lot of bad news, it’s nice to see that the qualities that made The United States great are still alive and healthy among small business owners. Small business owners know something that the rest of the country needs to learn: You can shape your own future if you have a dream and are willing to work hard enough to make it a reality.

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Image: By Kenny Louie from Vancouver, Canada: Hard at work. Uploaded by russavia. CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.