If you’re wondering where to go next in your career, take a close look at these numbers: There are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States. In 2013, roughly 630,000 small businesses launched, and of those new small businesses, close to 80 percent still had their doors open in 2014.
With the 2016 economic forecast including predictions of a lower inflation rate, higher employment, and more growth in consumer spending, now might just be the time to turn your big ideas into small-business opportunities.
The Allstate/USA TODAY Small Business Barometer, a new study that combines federal data with a national survey of more than 2,600 small -usiness owners, found that more than half of owners believe there has never been a better time to operate a small business.
“The Barometer shows that many small-business owners, like me, recognize we’re in a good place,” says Octavio Pina, an Allstate agency owner in Santa Ana, California. “It’s encouraging to see Main Street, U.S.A report a deep and growing optimism about their prospects.”
There is a lot to be said for the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a small-business owner, not to mention the luxury of having only yourself to answer to, whether your ideas succeed or fail. The opportunities that come with launching a small business are accompanied by some challenges, of course, so it’s important to consider the transition to small-business ownership carefully.
Many small-business owners report sacrificing paychecks, quality time with family and friends, and the stability that comes with working for a large organization or institution. But respondents to the survey said — overwhelmingly — that the benefits outweigh the challenges.
Here are the top three reasons survey participants like owning a small business:
1. Be your own boss
For many entrepreneurs, starting a small business is not about dollar signs. It’s about the creative freedom and sense of independence they get from being in charge, creating the type of organization they want to work for and getting things done in their own way.
Pina, a former real estate broker and mortgage banker, says being in control is a big reason he finds his current role so rewarding. “When you’re a small-business owner and want to make things happen, you have the ability go ahead and do it,” he says.
For professionals like Pina, being the boss also means being able to make your schedule fit your lifestyle. “I wanted to be able to pick my kids up from school, and now I can.”
2. Follow your passion
Pina is passionate about insurance — so much so he’s researched the history of the industry all the way back to ancient times. So putting his knowledge of housing and his financial skills to use selling commercial and personal insurance made sense for him.
Granted, it does take a certain kind of person to take the leap and follow their passion — someone with confidence, creativity, and the ability to innovate.
Pina’s passion fuels his optimism about doing business as an entrepreneur, and he’s not alone in that feeling. Among survey respondents, 79 percent feel optimistic about the environment in which their business operates and 64 percent believe their business will do well next year.
3. Experience entrepreneurial freedom
Starting your own business means you can take your own risks, experiment with innovative new ideas, and adapt to change in your own way. More than half of small-business owners in the survey say they have tested a new business practice over the past three months, and 38 percent say they have experimented with new technologies.
Four in 10 small-business owners have forgone their own salaries to benefit their businesses, making it clear that entrepreneurial freedom is a driving force behind launching a small business. “The ability to be innovative and take chances in order to reap your own rewards is empowering,” says Pina. “You’re making things happen for yourself and your family.”
Of course, when contemplating launching a small business, it’s important to decide if these reasons are right for you and your career trajectory. “Local entrepreneurs are making sacrifices, overcoming hurdles, and investing in their businesses,” says Pina. “If you’re up for the challenge, the feeling of building a small business and being a part of something you created is worth every ounce of energy.”