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Small business owners can't be happier as economy slides

By Mario Cywinski |

With daily reports of the doom and gloom of the world's economy over the last few months, it may be a little surprising to hear that small business owners are happier then ever, according to a recent survey.

Over 90 per cent of owners say they love what they do and would do it all over again if they were asked. Consequently, 80 per cent believe their quality of life has only increased since they opened their own business, said an American Express report conducted by Ipsos-Reid.

"This is a unique and resilient group of people that can be described as the backbone of the Canadian economy," says Howard Grosfield, vice-president and general manager, Small Business Services, American Express Canada and International. "While they cut across so many industries and professions, small business owners do share some common characteristics, including their passion for what they do."

Many things motivate small business owners, but some that may not immediately come to mind are:

  • having independence and control (62 per cent)
  • loving what they are doing (29 per cent)
  • personal dedication to succeed (22 per cent)
  • and commitment to customers and workers (21 per cent).

While the small business sector may sound very rosy, it is definitely for those who don't mind a little hard work. Just under half of small business owners work over 50 hours a week, and 78 per cent said their current stress level is high.

Many (40 per cent) think that they cannot take a vacation because nobody will be able to run the business in their absence. Those who do manage to get away, spend much of their holidays thinking about the office.

What is the reason for this?

Many small business owners want to always have control and have a hard time giving it to someone else, even temporarily.

It's not surprising that three in five owners said they would never work for another employer again, as they enjoy their independence and control too much.

So what does it take to run a successful small business?

Top answers are: being good with people (86 per cent), organization (80 per cent) and being driven and committed (76 per cent).

In the end, 60 per cent of small business owner would not make any drastic changes to their business model if they were given a chance.

"There is no question that running a small business places significant demands on the owner, but these findings show that the difficulties pale in comparison to the rewards," added Grosfield.

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