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2014 Success Study

Hedging Their Bets

Small Business Owners Feel Successful,
Remain Risk Averse and Hold on Hiring

According to the fourth annual study, in 2014 even more small business owners - a whopping 77% - feel successful about how their business is operating.

Feeling Successful

They define success based on meeting lifestyle needs, profitability and passion for work

When it comes to feeling successful, small business owners value the ability to support a comfortable lifestyle (83%), work they feel passionate about (79%), having free time to do what they wish (70%) and profitability (73%) above all.

They’re still not hiring

Most small business owners (67%) have not hired in the last year. The top three reasons why? Their business was not growing, they can’t afford to hire and they’re taking on any additional responsibilities themselves.

Not Hiring

Small business owners say marketing is important but social media is not top of mind

If they had $100,000 to invest, 30% of owners say marketing/promoting their business would be a top choice.

sbss marketing

Business owners seem conflicted about the risks/rewards of social media to their business

While 79% believe social media does not pose a significant risk to their business, 60% also agreed that getting a poor online review is risky to their business.

42% don’t believe social media can help grow their business and of those who believe it can, 43% believe Facebook is the best social media platform to grow their customer base.


They support a higher minimum wage

Though small business owners aren't hiring, two-thirds (66%) favor an increase in the federal minimum wage. In fact, most (81%) already pay their hourly employees above minimum wage and do not anticipate having to take any actions to offset the increase.

They support a higher minimum wage


They remain risk averse

Even though more feel successful, more than half (55%) said they operate their business’ finances more conservatively due to the most recent recession.

How number of risks taken in the past six months has changed:

 Small Business Risks

They are less concerned about macroeconomic factors impacting their business

Although small business owners remain cautious, fewer owners are concerned about certain uncontrollable risks that could impact their business.

Risks to Business

They find commercial loans are more attainable yet a less desirable funding choice

Small business owners (46%) are finding it easier to obtain loans, yet personal sources of funding now rival commercial loans, a 39% increase from 2012.1,2

Small Business Commercial Loans


Millennial owners (44%) are more likely this year than their Boomer (12%) and Gen X (12%) counterparts to use personal retirement savings to fund their operations.3



They are better informed about the Affordable Care Act

Small business owners (84%) feel much more informed about the Affordable Care Act than they did in 2013, but their feelings on the impact the policy will have on their business remain the same.

When asked which hashtag best describes the state of their business right now, small business owners said:

Small Business Hashtags


Small business owners still want to be small business owners!

The majority of small business owners say they would want to open a business much like the one they have today.

  • 56% of small business owners say they would open a business much like the one they have today
  • 16% would open a different business from the one they have today, and 15% would not open a business at all.


1 In 2014 the wording of the following survey options for this question changed from previous waves: “Credit lines” became “bank credit lines” and “bank” became “bank loans.”

2 Coded responses shown/indicated from an unaided open-end question.

3 Millennial is defined ages 18-34, Gen X ages 35-49 and Boomer ages 50-68. 


2015 Small Business Pulse Survey

Is a small business owner the same as an entrepreneur? The Hartford's 2015 Small Business Pulse Survey revealed 61% of respondents believe there's a difference.

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Coming Soon: 2015 Small Business Success Study