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How Do Entrepreneurs Spell Success? G-A-T-E-S

Bill Gates / Credit: 3777190317 / Shutterstock.com

There is no small business owner whom people respect more than Bill Gates, according to a new poll.

The survey by Office Depot found that tech pioneers Gates and the late Steve Jobs are admired most among small business entrepreneurs. Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Mary Kay Ash and Howard Schultz were also regarded highly among business owners.

The survey also revealed that owners perceive President Barack Obama to be better for small businesses than presidential challenger Mitt Romney, though the edge was slight.

Fifty-three percent viewed the Democratic incumbent as the top small business advocate, and 47 percent sided with the former Massachusetts governor who is the likely Republican presidential nominee.

To commemorate Small Business Week, which kicks off Sunday (May 20), the research also examined how owners of small and midsize businesses view themselves. More than half of those surveyed felt they’re successful, although their definitions of success varied.

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According to the study, in which owners were free to pick more than one measure of what makes them successful, 73 percent based their success on how profitable they are, while nearly 60 percent defined it as achieving a work-life balance. Additionally, 56 percent related being successful to the ability to work on something they believe in.

Fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed equated wealth with success.

"As we head into another National Small Business Week, we wanted to look at the many ways success is defined in small business," said Neil Austrian, chairman and CEO of Office Depot. "With the economic highs and lows of the past several years, it is important to commemorate the wins and reflect on what businesses of all sizes have accomplished."

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 owners of businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

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.