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Small Business Owners Measure Success by Happiness, Not Profit

happy-face-employee Credit: Dreamstime

While one might assume most small business owners determine success based on how much money is in the cash register at the day's end, new research shows that's not the case.

According to The Hartford’s Small Business Success Study, 82 percent of business owners surveyed instead place great importance simply on doing something they feel passionate about and enjoy. And although more than 75 percent acknowledge that increasing the business's profitability is very important, only 18 percent believe it to be the most important factor in defining success.

The study also revealed that small business owners aren't as concerned with growing their business as one might think. While 52 percent of those surveyed consider themselves to be growth-oriented, 48 percent describe themselves as maintenance-oriented and are comfortable running their business at its current size.

Overall, the study determined that the majority of small business owners are most passionate about staying involved in the company's operation and achieving a comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their employees.

As the economic outlook continues to be a grim one, the study found that small business owners are having to overcome more obstacles to achieve success. Those surveyed pointed to financing their business as a particular area of pain, with 34 percent saying obtaining a loan or capital credit has been difficult .

The survey also found that small businesses are challenged by government regulations, which result in greater administrative and accounting burdens.  Economic constraints, such as government rules, regulations and taxes, were the single biggest factor holding small business owners back, the study found.

Nonetheless, the survey shows small business owners are optimistic about their future. More than half of those surveyed are predicting success for themselves in the coming years.

Liam McGee, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Hartford, said the study revealed that most small business owners expect to be successful in the next two years, even as they face challenging conditions.

"Our hope is that the U.S. will foster an environment that is more hospitable to small businesses," McGee said. "Our country should be celebrating and liberating entrepreneurs, not burdening them."

The Small Business Success Study is based on surveys of 2,000 small business owners nationwide.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.