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Economy: Thumbs Down; Entrepreneurs: Thumbs Up

October 3rd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

“I can’t get no satisfaction,” Mick Jagger wailed in one of The Rolling Stones’ biggest hits. Maybe Jagger should try owning a small business. The results of a recent Gallup poll found that despite economic challenges, U.S. small business owners are thoroughly satisfied with their businesses.

The percentage of small business owners saying they are extremely (17 percent) or very (38 percent) satisfied with being a small business owner—a 12 percent jump compared to the third quarter of 2010. Another 29 percent of owners are somewhat satisfied—meaning that overall, a whopping 84 percent are satisfied. In comparison, just 16 percent of small business owners say they are not too (10 percent) or not at all (6 percent) satisfied with their businesses.

Since you could expect satisfaction to relate to a small business’s success, Gallup also asked the entrepreneurs how successful they believed their businesses were. Thirty-nine percent report feeling extremely or very successful, and more than half (51 percent) say they feel “somewhat” successful. That means 90 percent of small business owners think they’re successful to some degree.

Interestingly, in separate Gallup polls, small business owners have been expressing growing pessimism about the economy in general. This quarter’s Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index showed small-business owners’ overall optimism had declined; Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index dropped too; and another Gallup poll found limited capital spending plans among small business owners.

Given these attitudes, why are entrepreneurs feeling so positive about their businesses? There are a couple reasons I can think of. First, small business owners are natural optimists—we wouldn’t start businesses otherwise. And even when we think the economy is in trouble and the government isn’t much help, we’re confident in our own abilities to get through the tough times.

Second, this attitude isn’t just braggadocio—it’s reality. We have gotten through tough times, and four years after the Great Recession hit, any small business owners who’s survived and thrived has a right to feel extremely proud of what he or she has accomplished.

However, there’s still a lot of ground to gain back. In 2007 (before the recession began), 47 percent of small business owners Gallup polled felt their businesses were extremely or very successful, compared to 39 percent today. But like the small businesses in Gallup’s survey, I’m confident that no matter what the coming months (and the presidential election) bring, America’s small business owners will stay positive about their futures.

Image by Flickr user openpad (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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