Success In The Midwest: Most Chicago Small Business Owners Feel Successful, More Likely To Have Hired Compared To Peers Nationally

  • The Hartford’s survey finds Chicago owners twice as likely to view talent as a major contributor to success
  • The Hartford’s CEO Christopher J. Swift to keynote at The Executives’ Club of Chicago’s Global Leaders Luncheon today on key findings

HARTFORD, Conn.--()--Most small business owners in Chicago feel successful and are more likely to have hired in the past 12 months compared to their peers nationally, according to The Hartford’s 2014 Small Business Success Study.

The fourth annual study found that 86 percent of Chicago owners say they feel successful about how their business is operating now compared with 77 percent nationally. When it comes to hiring, 52 percent of small business owners in Chicago have hired in the past 12 months, significantly higher than owners nationally (30 percent). Of those who have hired, 33 percent made all the hires they wanted to and 19 percent have hired but not as much as they would have liked.

“Growing up the son of a small business owner in the Chicago area, I saw how demanding yet fulfilling it can be to run a small business and how important they are to local neighborhoods,” said The Hartford’s CEO Christopher J. Swift. “I am encouraged by the entrepreneurial spirit of Chicago small business owners, who are focused on growth, hiring and talent development.”

Focus on Employees

Chicago small business owners see talent as a key factor to how successful their business is performing. They are twice as likely (52 percent) to believe that a better pool of talent is a major contributor to the success of their business than nationally (26 percent). While a better pool of qualified talent is a top contributor to their success of their business, owners also cite the following:


Major Contributors
to Success

    Chicago     National

Improved demand for
products and services

    56 percent     58 percent

Better pool of qualified

    52 percent     26 percent

Fewer rules and

    35 percent     31 percent

Greater access to

    37 percent     25 percent

In addition, a greater percentage of small business owners in Chicago (70 percent) believe that paying their employees enough money to have a comfortable lifestyle is an important factor to their definition of success as a business owner, higher than the national sample (58 percent).

Looking to Grow But Still Conservative

Small business owners in Chicago are looking to grow their business significantly, which includes a large increase in sales, revenue, the number of employees and the hours they work, more than their peers nationally. Fifty-six percent of Chicago owners are looking to grow versus 40 percent of national owners. In contrast, 53 percent of small business owners nationally would rather maintain their business at its current size compared with only 33 percent of owners in Chicago.

More than half (62 percent) of small business owners in Chicago rate the overall level of risk they are taking with their business as conservative, which is less than the national average of 75 percent. Like the national sample, slow economic growth (54 percent) and taxes (44 percent) are among the top concerns for Chicago owners. However, more owners in Chicago are likely to identify health care costs, changes in liability and/or insurance law and data breach as a risk to their business than their national peers:


Major Risks to Their

    Chicago     National
Health care costs     46 percent     39 percent

Changes in liability
and/or insurance law

    43 percent     31 percent
Data breach     40 percent     30 percent

The recession has had an impact on some small business owners, with 46 percent of Chicago owners saying it has made them more financially conservative in how they operate their business today, compared with more than half of owners nationally (55 percent).

Chicago Owners Feeling #SmallButMighty

When describing the state of their business right now, small business owners in Chicago ranked #SmallButMighty the highest, mirroring their feelings of success. This is consistent with the national sample. Not surprisingly, given their conservative approach to risk taking, just 7 percent of respondents felt the hashtag #norisknoreward best represented their business.


Hashtag Best Describing
State of Their Business

#smallbutmighty     33 percent
#prevailing     19 percent
#norisknoreward     7 percent
#ontherebound     5 percent
#barelykeepingthelightson     4 percent

Swift To Keynote At The Executives’ Club of Chicago Program Today

Swift will deliver the keynote at today’s Global Leaders Luncheon at The Executives’ Club of Chicago Program, “Small Business: Sharpening The Nation’s Entrepreneurial Edge.” Follow @TheHartford_PR and @ExecClubChicago for live updates from Swift’s speech.

SBSS Metholodology

Braun Research conducted a telephone survey among small business owners in Chicargo and across the United States for The Hartford’s Small Business Success Study. A total of 2,024 interviews were completed nationally, as well as an oversample of 300 in the Chicago, IL Designated Market Area (DMA) with owners of for-profit businesses with fewer than 100 full-time employees that have been in business for at least one year. The National margin of error is ± 2.2 percentage points, Chicago’s margin of error is ± 5.7 percentage points.

For more information on these survey results, visit

For more news about The Hartford, visit:

About The Hartford

With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE:HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The company is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at Join us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter at


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our 2013 Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q, and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

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The Hartford
Media Contacts:
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
Debora Raymond, 860-547-4611


The Hartford
Media Contacts:
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
Debora Raymond, 860-547-4611