Martha Spelman Yes We

  • The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales (Source: SBA
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s. (Source: SBA)
  • A Small Business Owner earns an average salary of $71,584 per year (Source: Payscale)

As with any job, there will be drawbacks to owning a small business. Yet having one’s own business remains one of the top American Dreams — here’s why:

While owning a small business is not for the faint of heart — small business owners must be willing to take risks of all sizes. But the reward? “Everything here is mine…to take credit for!” Succeeding at small business ownership gives the proprietor a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

The inherent lack of hierarchy and red tape associated with a small business means far less bureaucracy-related issues than those of an office job — the owner is right there…easy to connect and interact with. “Flat” organizations are generally more flexible, cost-efficient and innovative.

Owners and staff at a small business learn to be the chief cooks and bottle-washers, allowing them to acquire a variety of skills and have cross-platform experience. They’ll learn finance, hiring, sales and marketing, project management, manufacturing, operations and more. Of course, an owner must be willing to recognize his or her limitations and bring on staff or consultants that can “fill in the blanks” but self-sufficiency reaps rewards of its own.

A small business is often started by “bootstrapping” and with an imperative of keeping costs — and financial obligations — to a minimum. Slow, deliberate growth can keep outside investors out and more money in the kitty.

A small business is agile, able to change or “pivot” depending on customer wants and needs or when it’s been determined what’s working or what’s not. Feedback can be almost immediate. This flexibility allows room to conceptualize and develop new products or services. And the realization of these new and different offerings is not bogged down in red tape. A small business frequently has a “get to market faster” advantage.

A successful small business doesn’t need hundreds or thousands of customers…just the good ones.

There is a potential for greater profitability — fewer mouths to feed and an ability to streamline operations.

A small business may be undertaken on a part-time basis…the time commitment and location can be set up to accommodate family or other work obligations. Without major investment, one is able to judge the viability of a full-time commitment.

Small businesses can enjoy tax breaks including writing off the portion of a home that’s devoted to running the business, marketing costs, office equipment, furniture and fixtures, auto expenses and startup costs like incorporation or fees paid to professional advisers such as an accountant or attorney. Here’s guidance from the SBA about small business allowable expenses.

While many new businesses finance their start using personal savings and credit cards, small businesses may have access to advantageous financing through organizations like the SBA, crowdfunding, angel investment, state non-profits, grants and other lending programs and institutions.

Customer service benefits immensely from the zero degrees of separation between the customer and the business owner. Issues are resolved quickly; company products or services can be improved.

A small business with a “niche” market makes it the “must have” or “must buy from” option. A niche business, properly promoted, can really stand out from an otherwise crowded field. Having a focused offering of products or services leads to an easier brand to build and market.

Owning a small business can give the owner job security (versus being at the mercy of an employer) and be a successful retirement plan: one has the option of selling the business or passing it on to family or key employees.

Find out more about National Small Business Week.

SBA National Small Business Week

No one ever said owning and operating a small business was easy. As a small business owner who has started and run several companies, including the sale of one, I can attest to the plusses and minuses. But the positives, for me, and the small businesses I advise, far outweigh any negatives. When it’s my company, I make the decisions and reap the rewards (like answering emails from a cruise ship off the Italian coast, seeing my kids’ basketball games or taking off for a mid-day hike). Beats answering to a less-than-pleasant boss any day.

Are you a small business owner? What do you like or dislike about it? Please comment!