New polls show that small business owners take satisfaction in … being a small business owner

A couple of polls from the Wells Fargo-Gallup Small Business Index show a few interesting trends among small business owners.

First, let’s look at the numbers regarding what small businesses think about the present and future small business operating environment. One poll taken in mid-July shows that, with respect to the Wells Fargo-Gallup Small Business Index, small business owners optimism declined from 23 in April to 17 in July. Last summer, this rating was at zero (which shows that business owners were neutral at that time) and in mid-2012 it was at -28; compare this to a high of 114 in 2006. So although it seems that small business are much more optimistic than when we were in the throes of the Great Recession, that optimism is very measured and fragile.

Source: Gallup

Second, let’s look at the satisfaction numbers for U.S. small business owners. Satisfaction has gone up in 2012 compared to this time in 2010, with 39% of owners U.S. feeling extremely or very satisfied compared to 26% in July 2010. In addition, 39% of small business owners also report as feeling extremely or very successful. Of course, these numbers are not near the pre-recession highs.

Source: Gallup

So what does this all tell us…

1. Small business owners like being small business owners
We aren’t very optimistic about the economy or if it’s going to get any better soon. But we still like owning our own businesses, being our own bosses, having more control over our own destinies, doing the work that we do … and I for one can’t think of anything better to do, anyways. So onwards and upwards.

2. Small business owners feel a sense of accomplishment
I don’t know about you, but I look around the tattered landscape at all the other businesses who have closed their doors or are mere shadows of what they once were, and I feel relieved, proud of myself and more than a little lucky. Yeah, things aren’t where I would like them to be ultimately, but how can I complain when so many other fine businesses who served their customers well weren’t able to make it.

And what can we take away from this…
1. Running a small business is as much a lifestyle as it is a vocation
Running a business is part of our DNA. It’s part of what makes life worth living, and those of us who run a small business thrive on it, even when we’re cursing and grumbling and bitching and moaning (which is also part of owning a business).

2. Our optimism and energy is what will sustain us
Small business is what fuels our economy. We make up a disproportionate part of the GDP and the labor force, and no corporate behemoths would survive without us. And it’s our energy and willpower and drive that will eventually pull us out of this recessionary period.

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