66% of SMB Owners Worry about Finding New Customers

Small Business Owners Cite Personal Challenges, including lack of time for themselves and for family and friends, in a new Constant Contact survey. Even in the face of these hardships, 84% would choose to do it all over again. The study reveals that SMBs enjoy being the boss but struggle to "do it all."

Just how hard is it to run a small business today? Extremely hard, according to a new survey from Constant Contactå¨, released in conjunction with National Small Business Week. The sacrifices are considerable: 56% say they feel like they can never be away from their business and just over half (51%) say they don‰Ûªt have time to focus on themselves. Yet the rewards are considerable, too ‰ÛÒ and highly personal. A combined 59% cite having the freedom to try new things and make their own mistakes, or controlling their destiny, as the best part of running a small business. The overall message? The rewards far outweigh the challenges: 84% say if they had it to do all over again, they would still choose to run a small business.

Personal Sacrifice for Professional Gain

In addition to feeling tethered to their business and having zero time for themselves, small business owners say they don‰Ûªt take vacations (43%) or see their family and friends as much as they would like (40%). 41% say their money is tied up in their business.

Having to wear so many different hats is cited by 43% as the most difficult part of their job. In essence, they are in charge of sales and marketing, operations, customer relations, payroll, accounts payable, and more. Coming in second was ‰ÛÏriding out bad economic times‰Û (20%), followed by hiring and managing a staff (10%).

While conventional wisdom might point to health care and taxes, the top business concerns of small business owners are:

– Finding new customers 66%
– Having enough time to do everything I need to do 55%
– Retaining existing customers 40%
– Paying my bills 32%
– Keeping up with technology advances 30%

The economy, taxes, and health care costs came in further down the list at 25%, 22% and 18% respectively.

So Why Do They Do It?

Given all of the challenges, both personal and professional, the million dollar question is, ‰ÛÏWhy do they do it?‰Û Here is what they say:

– Ability to pursue my passion 62%
– Freedom to control my professional life 59%
– Flexibility 50%
– I don‰Ûªt want to work for anyone else 41%

‰ÛÏHow many people can say they love what they do? As this survey shows, while being a small business owner may be one of the toughest jobs in America, it‰Ûªs also one of the most rewarding,‰Û says Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. ‰ÛÏSmall business owners face incredible professional challenges that often impact every aspect of their lives. Yet their job represents their passion, and that seems to make the sacrifices worth it. It‰Ûªs also that passion that can translate to a great customer experience, which is why so many of us prefer to shop at, or work with, a small business over a larger competitor.‰Û

Big Company Defection

54% worked at a large or mid-​sized company before running their small business. As for the biggest differences between running a small business and working at a larger company, respondents pointed largely to small business benefits: 69% cited ‰ÛÏmore freedom at a small business‰Û and 50% cited ‰ÛÏless red tape at a small business.‰Û Tied for third at 46% were corporate advantages: ‰ÛÏmore affordable benefits‰Û and ‰ÛÏmore resources‰Û at a large company.

The Best is Yet to Come

Despite lingering economic concerns, small business owners are optimistic about the future. 65% say that five years from now they envision their business thriving, with more customers and/​or more employees, a 12% increase from 2013, when the question was last asked.

As for what the best part of running a small business is, respondents say:

– The freedom to try new things and make my own mistakes 30%
– Controlling my destiny 29%
– Being the decision-maker 19%
– Putting my stamp on things 12%

In honor of Small Business Week, and in recognition of just how hard the job of a small business owner can be, Constant Contact has curated the best pieces of business advice received from small businesses, influencers, and more. Click here to view the advice.

About the Data

This Constant Contact data was compiled from a survey administered in March 2015 to 785 people running a small business who participate in the Constant Contact Small Biz Council ‰ÛÒ a research panel of US small businesses and nonprofits recruited from the Constant Contact customer base. The survey is part of an ongoing series about the state of small businesses and the ways they connect with, and grow, their audiences.

So in addition to doing everything for their business, today‰Ûªs SMB is also faced with the daunting task of managing social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), paid search, SEO, emails, websites, blogs, videos, content marketing, listing management, etc. With brands dedicating entire teams to each of these individual venues, the SMB faces an uphill battle online. When it comes to marketing, there‰Ûªs often desire to do it themselves (DIY) but a recognition that there are simply too many things to understand and monitor in addition to running the business. Which opens up a world of opportunity for you to gently sell your digital services to them.

AudienceSCAN's report on Small Business Owners can help you serve these prospects better. You can approach the 41% of SMB owners who are women with conversation topics on traveling or entertaining. 25% of SMB owners love traveling to foreign countries in their free time and 26% love hosting parties when they're not working. You should know that mom and pop shop CEOs are 40% more likely than the average American to be aged 35–44. And another winning conversation starter is always pets! 53% of SMBs own dogs and 40.5% are cat owners. Definitely connect with your prospects on Facebook ‰ÛÒ 77.5% used it in the past month.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.