There are many traits that go into being a successful small business owner. For starters, they are positive, committed, enthusiastic, and creative. They are also hard working and typically fearless. Finally, you could also say that, generally speaking, they like to be in control.
That last factor especially makes a lot of sense.
If you are going to leave the comfort and security of a job with its attendant paychecks and benefits for the far more risky life of an entrepreneur, it is logical that you will want to be in charge of as many aspects of the new engagement as possible. According to a recent article in Entrepreneur, “the truth is Steve Jobs was known for the same thing. So were Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. So are Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg...That’s who they are. That’s how they roll.”
So yes, entrepreneurs like predictability and want to be able to control as many variables in the business equation as they can. It should then follow that the one thing that can really make a small business owner sweat is a lack of control.
As such, it probably comes as no surprise that this unprecedented 2016 election finds small business owners nervous.
These are just part of the fascinating findings in the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR.) For small business owners, “anxiety is high regarding the impact of the fall elections, the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders and health care costs, possibly explaining why small businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach before making plans for hiring and growth.”
The report goes on to note, “nearly four out of five (79 percent) of small business owners express concern over the effectiveness of U.S. government leaders. In addition, 67 percent say the presidential election will affect their business “a lot” or “somewhat.” Think about that for a moment. Politicians talk about a lot of different policies, many of which actually have little bearing on the day-to-day lives of a particular set of voters. Yet, it’s remarkable that 2/3 of small business owners surveyed saw a correlation between the upcoming elections and their own local business.
This uncertainty is having some very real world consequences, having an effect small business owners’ plans for growth:
- Last year, 63% of small business owners surveyed in the SBOR said that they expected to grow their business over the course of the 12 months. This year, that number dropped by 12 percentage-points, down to about only half (51%).
- Similarly, last spring, 40% of small business owners said that at least they expected their revenues to remain constant. This year that number is down almost 10%.
That being said, these numbers were also on the lower end when surveyed in previous election years in 2012 and 2014.
Small business owners can control a lot of things in their world. They can control who works for them and how much they are paid. They can control how customers are treated, what prices customers will pay, and what products and services they will sell.
But it turns out that it could be those things they cannot control which causes them the most stress, especially in this election year.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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