By Courtenay Worcester

A recent survey of 4,237 small business owners captured what’s in the hearts and minds of today’s entrepreneurs. Asking how they came to be self-employed, how long they plan to stay that way, and what motivates them are some of the questions they candidly answered. Based on insight from the survey conducted by GetResponse, here’s the latest pulse on today’s small business owners.

The Longer You’re Self-Employed, the Longer You’ll Be Self-Employed

It’s no surprise that the longer you’re your own boss, the longer you want it to stay that way. Over half of the survey respondents, 53 percent, held a corporate job before starting their own business. When these entrepreneurs were asked if they’d return to a traditional 9-5 role, the vast majority, 61 percent, said they would never consider it. Another 23 percent said it was possible and only seven percent said they could see themselves returning to the traditional workforce in the future.

Probing deeper into their mindsets, these small business owners were then asked how long they’ve been self-employed. Those with the least amount of experience being their own boss are most likely to return to a corporate role. According to the survey, 37 percent of those who had run a business for less than a year responded “possibly” or “yes” when asked if they were likely to abandon entrepreneurship.

More than Two Thirds of Today’s 9-5 Workforce Has One Foot Out the Door

A lot of entrepreneurs say that being self-employed is in their blood. Others discover it as a second career while others fall into it after the loss of a traditional full-time job. From the survey results, it’s clear that many entrepreneurs are currently waiting in the wings for the right time to launch their own business.

In response to the survey question of why they left the corporate world, 52 percent of SMB owners said it was because they weren’t satisfied at work. Specifically, they were looking to find a better balance between work and life. Another 33 percent said they had always dreamed of running their own business. Those who fell into it after being laid off from a full-time job represented 12 percent of the survey participants. The smallest group, 3 percent, inherited a small business. Based on this data, it’s likely that 85 percent of full time employees are planning to work for themselves or are open to it.

If Given More Time, SMB Owners Would Still Focus on Their Business

It’s widely known that SMB owners work long hours. The survey results show that 25 percent work 40 hours or more each week and another nine percent putting in 60-plus hours per week. However, it’s not all drudgery as 55 percent of survey participants report working fewer than 30 hours.

While work/life balance is a priority and technology enables many of us to work virtually anywhere we want at any time, the majority of today’s small business owners talk about work/life balance more than act on it.

According to the survey, 96 percent of SMBs say that achieving work/life balance is important to them. Yet 91 percent work on weekends, with 38 percent spending more than six hours working in their off hours. And 69 percent often answer business-related emails, phone calls or texts in their free time.

When asked how they’d spend a spare 10 hours each week, the top three ranked answers were grow my business, find the time to get everything done, and acquire new prospects. Achieving work/life balance came in fourth.

However, some SMBs are still managing to fit in vacations. When asked the last time they took a vacation, 48 percent report having taken one within the past 12 months. This was followed by 23 percent having one over a year ago, 13 percent falling between two and three years ago, 5 percent within the past four to five years, and for 11 percent, it’s been more than six years since their last vacation.

SMB owners continue to be driven by the ability to have more control over their work and, therefore, how they spend their time. Despite many entrepreneurs putting in more than 40 hours per week, it’s clear they have no intention of relinquishing their roles any time soon.

Courtenay Worcester is Director of U.S. Marketing at GetResponse.

Small business owner stock photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock