Do you eat chaos for breakfast? Are you hell-bent on making your company the biggest and best it can be? For generations, that’s what it reportedly took to be a successful entrepreneur — grit, determination, and an adventurous spirit.
But according to The Hartford’s 2015 Small Business Success Study, released on Sept. 29, fewer small-business owners are focused on growing their business now than in 2012 — yet more of them are feeling successful about how their business is operating and say they are optimistic about the economy strengthening this year.
The fifth annual study shows:
- In 2015, 33 percent of small-business owners — down from 41 percent in 2012 — said their primary goal is to grow their business significantly, which means a large increase in sales, revenue, and staff.
- Fifty-five percent of owners say they are looking to maintain their business at its current size, a proportion that has been largely consistent over the past few years.
- Even though more than half of owners have a maintenance mindset, 73 percent feel successful about how their business is operating now, up from 69 percent in 2011.
- And, the proportion of small-business owners who are optimistic that the national economy will improve this year has increased from 33 percent in 2012 to 52 percent in 2015.
“It is encouraging to see better overall sentiment among small-business owners; however, the decline in owners focused on growth is something all of us need to pay attention to,” said Christopher J. Swift, CEO of The Hartford, a more than 200-year-old insurance company based in Connecticut.
“There is no better place to be an entrepreneur than in the US, so it is imperative that we work to create an environment that better fosters small-business formation, success, and growth.”
So what are the top characteristics of today’s highly successful business owners?
1. It depends on how successful they are.
Based on an analysis of data over the past few years, The Hartford’s study found that owners who take more risks and feel optimistic about the national economy tend to be more inclined to say their business is extremely or very successful.
- In addition, the highly successful business owners are not as conservative as those who feel slightly or not at all successful.
- In the 2015 study, one-quarter (27 percent) of owners who feel extremely/very successful about how their business is operating right now rate their overall level of risk as “risky” rather than “conservative,” compared to just 14 percent of those who feel they are slightly/not at all successful.
2. Talented employees matter.
The analysis also found that owners who feel their business is operating highly successfully are relying on better qualified talent, better guidance from other professionals, and even bank loans. In contrast, owners who feel less successful seem to be taking on the load and stress of running a small business more on their own.
- Those who feel their business is operating less successfully and have not hired or not hired as much as they would have liked this past year are more likely to say this is because they are taking on additional responsibilities themselves compared to those who feel highly successful (38 percent vs. 21 percent).
- Highly successful owners who have not hired or not hired as much as they would have liked in the past year are less likely to say the reason for not hiring is that their business is not growing, compared to those who feel less successful and have not hired (20 percent vs. 59 percent).
3. Optimism rules.
When asked which theme song would be their small-business anthem, respondents said:
- 35 percent: “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, reflecting those who are determined and hardworking.
- 21 percent: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, because they are hopeful and optimistic about achieving their goals.
- 14 percent: “We Are the Champions” by Queen, because they have persevered and overcome.
For more information on these survey results, visit thehartford.com/successstudy.
Small-Business Success Study Methodology: Braun Research conducted a telephone survey among small-business owners across the United States on behalf of The Hartford. A total of 2,003 interviews were completed with small-business owners of for-profit businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees who have been in business for at least one year. The study included a nationally representative sample of businesses in the United States. One owner, co-owner, principle owner, or sole owner per business was interviewed. The interviews were conducted between July 7-16, 2015. The margin of error is ± 2.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
About The Hartford: With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE:HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits, and mutual funds. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com.
Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in The Hartford’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q, and the other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Hartford assumes no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.