What defines a small business owner as successful? You might think the obvious answer is one who grows quickly and expands his or her operations. But a recent report by Emergent Research and Infusionsoft found that "becoming a big business" doesn't equal success for most small business owners.
"The vast majority of people ... believe that most small businesses want to grow and become big businesses," Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, wrote in a blog post about the report. "This belief is driven mostly by the vast amount of media coverage high growth small businesses and their owners get."
Based on the responses of 400 small business owners, the Emergent Research and Infusionsoft report revealed that the majority (88 percent) and neither inspired nor driven to build large empires, and don't want to simply grow for growth's sake.
"Many small business owners tell us they consider themselves an outlier because they aren't interested in growing into a big business. They often are surprised when we tell them this attitude is common," wrote King.
So what do small business owners consider to be benchmarks of success? According to the report, non-financial goals are just as, if not more, important than financial ones. Survey respondents stated that doing work they enjoy; being their own boss; work flexibility, freedom and control; and having a positive impact on their employees, customers and community make them feel successful.
Small business success is not easy, and it's getting harder to achieve in today's complex and ever-changing business environment. Emergent Research and Infusionsoft's report offered some recommendations for small business owners who want to achieve success.
Define success on your own terms. "In most cases, the growth goal is modest and the financial targets are important, but secondary to other objectives," wrote King. Growth objectives for a small business owner should be created in a way that supports your broader life goals, and only the business owner can define that, he said.
Take challenges one step at a time. Your key business challenges will likely change as your business moves through different stages of growth.The changes in business challenges may require a change in the way the business is managed, so it's important to be adaptable.
Ask for help. Seek coaching, mentoring, education and training not only for you, but for your employees as well.This will help you and your employees learn new skills and overcome challenges.
Don't be afraid of technology. Technology can help you communicate more effectively with employees, customers and prospects, save time and improve efficiency by automating processes, and improve business performance through analytics.