The U.S. is in the midst of a micro-business renaissance. Spurred on by the pandemic, people are taking up entrepreneurship in droves in the face of adversity—leaving their occupations to pursue their dreams, turning side hustles into full-time jobs, and starting their own businesses to make ends meet.
At ZenBusiness, it is at our core to do all we can to help entrepreneurs take the leap to business ownership. During the pandemic, we have helped 200,000 entrepreneurs start their own businesses. To capture the thoughts and feelings of micro-business owners across the country, we conducted a survey of over 1,000 micro-business owners*
The top reasons micro-business owners give for owning their own business are wanting to be their own boss (68%), wanting more control over their schedule (52%), wanting to make more money (44%) and wanting to pursue something they’re passionate about (44%).
Nearly all of those pursuing their passion as a business say it has been challenging, but they like it (95%) and don’t regret turning their passion into their full-time job (95%)1. In fact, two-thirds (64%) of micro-business owners overall regret not starting their business sooner.
60% of micro-business owners knew they wanted to own their own business one day even as kids. Half of micro-business owners (48%) say the pandemic inspired them to re-evaluate their calling in life. Of those who filed their business since the beginning of the pandemic, half say the pandemic gave them the time (50%) and the inspiration (49%) to start their business.
Four-in-five (80%) micro-business owners say it’s important to turn their passions into a full-time job, yet 43% admit not knowing what they were getting into. In fact, starting a business is more difficult than they thought it would be (55%) and more complicated than they thought it should be (58%).
According to micro-business owners, the top things they found difficult to navigate when they first started their business were:
Funding is a challenge, leading many micro-business owners to dip into their own savings or work multiple jobs to turn their dream into reality or keep it alive.
Six in 10 (57%) micro-business owners dipped into their savings to fund their business and (44%) took on debt (through credit cards, friends or family, or loans). Nearly half (46%) currently or have had to work multiple jobs to support their business.
Community and mentorship are key to business success. Eight in 10 (81%) micro-business owners believe that those who have a community of fellow business owners to reach out to are more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
Moreover, three in four (73%) think business owners who have mentors are more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
And a quarter (25%) of micro-business owners say one of the biggest barriers to earning a profit is a lack of personal or professional support systems.
While almost all micro-business owners have no regrets about starting their own business, three in five (57%) say they often prioritize their business over their self-care.
Almost half (46%) say it’s hard for them to make time for self-care while running their business and that it’s hard to focus on what they love about their business with so much to do (44%).
Additionally, 85% of micro-business owners admit they most often prioritize their business over their social life (15%), while 40% say they most often prioritize it over their emotional health (60%) and a third (33%) most often prioritize it over their physical health (67%).
Running your own business enables you to set your own schedule, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to take time off from work. Half (52%) of micro-business owners haven’t taken a vacation longer than a few days since opening their business.
Becoming an entrepreneur can be the calling of a lifetime. But owning a business comes with unique challenges. Most micro-business owners say the strongest emotions they feel on a typical day are satisfaction (66%), pride (53%), and optimism (52%), yet two-in-five (41%) feel stressed.
Three-in-four (76%) are driven to succeed because they risked a lot to start their business, but micro-business owners won’t let stress keep them from their goals: 60% aren’t worried about getting burnt out and losing passion for their business. To limit personal stress, micro-business owners say that setting small business goals helps (80%).
The majority of micro-business owners predict that there will be more competition from other small businesses post-COVID (72%) and less government support for small businesses (60%).
And yet, micro-business owners are optimistic that their business will grow in the next six months (76%), in the next year (80%), and even in the next two years (81%).
*The survey was fielded between July 2-13, 2021 among n=1026 micro-business owners, defined as as those whose businesses have up to 9 employees, including themselves, and own a business that falls under one of these categories: Sole proprietorship, Limited partnership (LP), Limited liability partnerships (LLP), Limited liability company (LLC), Corporation, Cooperative. The sample is balanced across age, gender, region and race/ethnicity. The margin of error (MOE) for the total sample is +/- 3 percentage points. 1Among those pursuing their passion as a business.