The Price of ‘Being the Boss’: Gain Control, But Also Long Hours, HR Headaches survey finds entrepreneurs hardly ‘off’ but still feel fulfilled

RICHMOND, Va.--()--Budding entrepreneurs looking for more lucrative pay or more leisure hours by starting their own business may be in for disappointment. According to a just-released national survey of small business owners commissioned by hourly job Web site, only one in five (21%) business owners with between two and 10 employees is earning more than they had hoped to make when they started their companies. And it’s not for lack of hard work: These small business owners say they put in an average of 58 hours per week toward their business.

Yet, among small business owners with two to 100 employees, almost two-thirds (63%) say that starting their own business has been more personally fulfilling than they ever thought it would be. For company founders in growth mode – those planning to increase headcount within the next 12 months – that figure rises to 71 percent.

Earning a higher income is not the biggest reason for becoming an entrepreneur, although it is among the top three for 72 percent of small business owners. The top motivation? A whopping 91 percent say “being their own boss” was among their top-three influencers, and 44 percent say it was No. 1.

Being the head honcho, however, comes with its share of headaches. Topping the list of frustrations are bookkeeping (cited by 38%), HR issues like benefits (31%) and recruiting (18%). And when it comes to recruiting, 58 percent of business owners say that “identifying qualified applicants” is their biggest challenge. Small businesses are most likely to build a pool of job applicants using free methods, stating that referrals (60%) are the best recruiting method, followed by newspaper classified ads (13%), walk-in traffic (8%) and free online job boards (8%), among several other methods.

“Small businesses – much like the hourly workers we serve – are the backbone of America’s economy,” said Shawn Boyer, CEO of, who was named the National Small Business Person of the Year in 2008 for founding a website for hourly jobs. “Small businesses employ just over half of private-sector employees, and more than half of the U.S. workforce is employed by the hour. Therefore, we’re in a unique position to help match these large segments of the workforce. ”

To help small business owners better identify qualified job applicants, is offering a 60-day free trial to post positions for lightly skilled, hourly workers, including screening questions to help owners focus in on the right-fit hire. According to the survey, 61 percent of small business owners will do some kind of hiring in the next 12 months, with 35 percent expecting to increase headcount and 26 percent hiring because of turnover.

Other survey findings:

  • Small business owners that have grown their companies to 11 to 100 employees say that starting a small business has been more financially rewarding than they expected (40% vs. 21% of owners of firms with two to 10 employees).
  • But a larger headcount does not mean that owners have more free time. Small business owners with 11 to 100 employees report spending an average of 69 hours a week working towards their business versus 58 hours a week at smaller firms.
  • Small business owners are rarely “off” from their business. On average, they spend a total of 63 hours a week working, which includes time at the business, time working at locations other than the business and an average of 16 hours a week “multi-tasking,” where at least some portion of their mind is thinking about the business.
  • Being a small business owner isn’t easy. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all difficult and 10 being more difficult than imagined, the average entrepreneur rated the realities of being a small business owner as a 6.6, suggesting that it is more difficult than expected. In fact, four in 10 (39%) rated it an 8 or higher in terms of the job’s difficulty, compared to just 13 percent who rated the difficultly of being a small business owner a 1, 2, or 3 out of 10.

Survey Methodology: This online survey was conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs, a third-party research firm, on behalf of between Apr. 15 – 22, 2010. Respondents included a national sample of 511 small business owners who employ 2 to 100 employees. The margin of error for the entire survey is 4.34% at a 95% confidence level. The margin of error for the subgroup of small business owners with between 2 and 10 employees (255 respondents) is 6.14%. Similarly, the margin of error for the subgroup of small business owners with between 11 and 100 employees (256 respondents) is 6.13%.

About, America’s largest hourly job Web site, has helped connect hourly workers with quality full-time and part-time jobs in a wide range of industries since 2000. Headquartered in Richmond, Va., current clients include DISH Network®, Verizon Wireless®, FedEx®, Boston Market®, Chick-fil-A®, Bed Bath & Beyond®, Michaels® and Jiffy Lube®. Learn more about the No. 1 source for hourly employment at and


Stacey Brucia, 804-381-5132

Release Summary survey of small business owners finds "being the boss" gains entrepreneurs the control they wanted but also little time off, HR headaches.


Stacey Brucia, 804-381-5132