entrepreneur outlook

By Rieva Lesonsky

How are you feeling about being an entrepreneur these days? If you’re like the majority of U.S. small business owners, you love it and you’re optimistic about the coming year. But you might be feeling a little less smitten and a little less rosy than you were the same time last year—at least, if you’re like the respondents in the 2013 DNA of an Entrepreneur study by Hiscox.

In this global poll of small business owners with fewer than 50 employees, half are optimistic about the coming year, down from 55 percent who felt the same in last year’s survey. Why the decline? Small business owners say their greatest fear for the year ahead is lack of government support (cited by 38 percent), being unable to attract new customers (35 percent) and having to pass on cost increases to customers (34 percent). Perhaps of more concern, 31 percent say they are worried they don’t have the financial resources to keep their companies afloat, while 21 percent are worried about the rising cost of debt.

It’s not all bad news, though. Asked what their general attitudes toward their businesses, more than half of small business owners (54 percent) say they enjoy running their own business more than being an employee.

Asked to name the benefits of running a small business, respondents’ most common answers were the ability to set flexible working hours (51 percent), being able to influence the direction of their business (45 percent), taking greater pride in their work (43 percent) and having a greater feeling of control (43 percent). About four in 10 (39 percent) cite less bureaucracy and 38 percent say they have more scope for creativity.

On the downside, all of these benefits were cited by fewer respondents than last year, while 13 percent of respondents say there are no benefits to running a small business–up from 9 percent last year. Instead, they were doing so simply because they couldn’t find a job elsewhere.

How do you feel about running your own business? If you haven’t yet launched your business, I think this survey provides a pretty realistic view of the benefits of being your own boss. While only 9 percent of the respondents cited making more money than they did as an employee as one of their big motivators, small business ownership has rewards that go beyond just the financial.

If you’re feeling like running your own business isn’t as much fun as it used to be, maybe you need some help getting your business mojo back. An outside opinion like those from a SCORE mentor or SBDC small business advisor (disclosure: both organizations are clients of my company) can help you shake up your operations and figure out what steps to take if you feel like sales are falling short.