Plenty of people have big dreams of owning their own business—and plenty of them also make that dream come true. Their passion was planted in their youth and nurtured through business school. Others realized their side hustle was their true passion and decided to pursue it full-time.
But a recent survey by TSheets by QuickBooks showed that a good portion of small business owners found themselves running the show because they were fed up with their previous 9-5.*
Midlife crisis or an ache for autonomy?
Before starting their own business, the majority of respondents were working for wages before starting their own small business. And 27% of those people were so over that job, they started new—on their own terms.
Many of these people had presumably been in the workforce for a while. Nearly 55% of small business owners who were previously employed for wages and fed up with their jobs were between the ages of 35 and 54. In a 2019 survey by Guidant Financial, over half of small business owners were over 50 years old.
So what’s driving all of these middle-aged workers to become their own boss? Just that—more control and autonomy. American entrepreneurs are the world’s most likely, at 67%, to say that being their own boss is an important motivator for entrepreneurship.
And if you’re wondering if being your own boss is all that it’s cracked up to be, it sure is for half of small business owners out there. A substantial 53% of business owners surveyed by Guidant Financial ranked their happiness at nine or above, showing a majority as happy in their role as a small business owner.
Business school, schmisness school
Since many small business owners called it quits with their job before opening up shop, how many of them have an actual business background? Not many, according to our survey.
49% of those who were fed up with their previous job say they don’t have a degree in business, and while another 29% can’t boast a business degree, they have taken some business classes. Just 6% have a bachelor’s degree in business.
Still, confidence levels are high. Nearly 47% of those with no degree in business felt very confident in their abilities as a business owner. Perhaps thanks to their business mentor: the world wide web.
27% of those confident, no-business-degree entrepreneurs use the internet whenever they need some advice. And it’s not just the millennial group of small business owners. Here’s a breakdown of small business owners by age group that goes to Google first for advice:
- 18-24: 6.67%
- 25-34: 23.64%
- 35-44: 28.48%
- 45-54: 19.39%
- >54: 21.82%
Money’s not the motivator
If being their own boss got owners into the business, regardless of education, what keeps them there?
For small businesses who have been operating for less than a year, 40% of them have seen a loss in profits, and almost 31% have broken even. But generally, a third of business owners have seen a profit of under $50,000.
Of course, the longer the company has been around, typically the higher the profits they see. Still, 20% of well-established businesses—we’re talking about those that have been around for 21-50 years—don’t see profits of more than $50,000, with 33.3% seeing profits anywhere from $50,000-$99,999.
With just 54% of small business owners surveyed making a profit, there’s got to be more to it.
TD Small Business’ study showed several reasons for small business owners’ high levels of satisfaction, including:
- Owning a small business gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
- Feeling a deep personal connection to their employees.
- Feeling that same deep connection to their customers.
- Owning a small business gave them the opportunity to volunteer their time or make donations to charities, sports teams, and events.
Small business owners are playing up their strengths, skills, and passions. And it shows.
You can celebrate National Small Business Week by taking an online course, buying from a local small business, or reading about how TSheets solves top pain points for small businesses.
*Methodology: TSheets by QuickBooks commissioned Pollfish to survey 1,067 U.S. adult business owners with or without employees. The poll was conducted in April 2019 with a margin of error of ±5 percentage points. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.