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Small Business Not for the Faint of Heart

Managing the ongoing success of their business creates more stress for small business owners than any other aspect of their lives—even raising children. . / Credit: Superheroine image via Shutterstock

Running a small business is hardly child’s play, a new survey shows. In fact, managing the ongoing success of their business creates more stress for small-business owners than any other aspect of their lives — even raising children.

Maintaining a small business causes the owners twice as much stress as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as much stress as raising children and more than four times as much as managing their own personal finances, according to a survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. small-business owners with between two and 99 employees that was sponsored by Bank of America.

In addition, small-business owners regularly forgo free time (57 percent), exercise (37 percent) and other important personal priorities in order to manage their business.

[Read Related Article: Stress Management Key to Keeping Business (and Owner) Alive]

But small-business owners remain committed and optimistic about their future despite challenges and sacrifices, the survey found.

Small-business owners have more confidence in their local economy than the national economy. When asked about the next 12 months, 42 percent expect their local economic conditions to improve, compared with 35 percent who expect the national economy will improve.

These reservations about the state of the national economy, however, did not dampen optimism among small-business owners regarding their future business prospects. Nearly seven of 10 (69 percent) small- business owners view their local economy as very important to their business’ success. Moreover, reflective of the independent character that typifies most small-business owners, the majority of respondents (53 percent) said that their own decisions, rather than the overall health of the economy, are more likely to influence business outcomes. This sentiment was particularly strong among young small-business owners between ages 18 and 34 (66 percent).

Confidence was further evident in two key indicators of performance — hiring  and revenue expectations. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of small-business owners expect to expand their work force in the next 12 months, while more than half (56 percent) plan to keep their staffing levels consistent year over year. Among those small businesses planning to hire, owners expect to increase the number of employees by 25 percent on average. Furthermore, 61 percent of all respondents forecast a revenue increase, and 32 percent project that revenues will remain the same.

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