Work Is Labor of Love for Small-Business Owners

by Dennis Jacobe, PhD
Chief Economist, The Gallup Organization

On average, they work 52 hours a week

What does it take to start your own business? Entrepreneurial spirit is an obvious requirement, but it takes much more than that, according to a new Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey*. Most small-business owners have a passion for their work, which leads them to work long hours most days of the week. As a result, small-business owners tend to see passion for their work as a natural part of their work-life balance.

Small-Business Owners Work Long Hours

Fifty-seven percent of small-business owners say they work six or more days each week. In sharp contrast, only 7% say they work fewer than five days each week.

Sixty-two percent of small-business owners say they work 50 or more hours each week. On average, small-business owners put in 52 hours each week.

Do Small-Business Owners Ever Relax?

On average, small-business owners say they take about two weeks of vacation each year. Six in 10 say they just enjoyed their last vacation, and didn't do anything work-related. Of the 39% of small-business owners who did work while on their last vacation, 8 in 10 (81%) say they made or returned business calls, and half (52%) initiated or returned e-mail.

Two in three small-business owners (67%) are satisfied with their ability to achieve a positive work-life balance. And a similar percentage (65%) feel they are able to make the time available outside work to do the things that are most important to them.

Being a Successful Small-Business Owner

Ninety-four percent of small-business owners say they are at least somewhat successful, 87% say they are at least somewhat satisfied with being small-business owners, and 84% say they would still become small-business owners if they had to do it all over again. However, becoming a successful small-business owner asks a lot of the individual and his or her family.

Given the long hours, being a small-business owner is not a 9-to-5 job. In order for small-business owners to achieve a positive work-life balance, their families must be willing to find ways to make work a part of their family life -- hence the fact that many small businesses are also "family businesses."

*Results for the total dataset are based on telephone interviews with 607 small-business owners, conducted June 10-24, 2005. For results based on the total dataset, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

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