We did an in-depth survey of over 1,000 small business owners to uncover exactly where they are, what they’re struggling with and what help they need to make their business a success.
In this article, we’re going to share the results with you! Cool, eh? 😎
Better still, we’re going to walk you through exactly how you can become one of the top 10% of entrepreneurs whose businesses are skyrocketing right now. It’s all in the results…
Why did you create this survey for small businesses?
We wanted to do this because we’re on a mission to help small AND mighty business owners succeed. And to do that, we wanted to understand what they’re struggling with the most.
‘Guys, why are you publishing these small business stats for all to see?!’
Okay, so having a deep understanding of small business owners and their current problems and opportunities is pretty damn cool.
It helps us get to know our audience and know how exactly we can help them.
You might think we’d want to keep this juicy information to ourselves.
But we made the decision to publish for two key reasons:
1. We want people to feel less alone if they’re having problems
In the survey results, you’ll see where business owners are doing well, but you’ll also see where they’re struggling.
We only ever see the good stuff on social media, but this survey will help you see that you’re not alone in your problems.
2. We want to help all micro-businesses and freelancers achieve
Even if you’re not part of our membership, we want ALL small business owners and freelancers to thrive.
In this article, we’ll show you the problems small business owners face AND, if you’re experiencing the same problems, we’ll help you solve them too.
Are you ready? Let’s have a look at these interesting small business statistics and what you can learn from them!
Nearly half of entrepreneurs wish their business growth was faster
Let’s start with one of the biggest problems facing small business owners: business growth.
We asked each small business owner to describe their growth pattern, from very slow to rapid.
45.68% of small business owners said they wished their business growth was faster, and 44.21% said their growth was ‘very slow’ (or they’d just started out).
Houston, we have a growth problem!
To explain why so many business owners have struggled with their growth, we also looked at the 9.49% of people who described their growth as ‘rapid’ and in a ‘really happy place with it’.
What can we learn from them?
What did the top 9% all have in common?
Of these 9.49% of people that scored the highest…
- 91% know pretty well who their ideal client is
- 89% have at least a rough idea of what their next three months’ worth of sales/marketing projects are in order to hit their income goal
- 82% have at least some level of accountability. Wow!
- 71% currently have one or more team members (employed or freelanced) that they pay regularly
- 62% know which of their services has the biggest revenue potential and are currently focused on selling that.
Yup. This makes sense!
A lot of business owners believe that it’s a particular marketing strategy they use that makes a big difference to their business growth, when, in reality, accountability, making time for business development (by outsourcing your work) and focusing on sales are really the key things that will help your business grow.
Giving yourself time back in your business to DO marketing is far more impactful than WHAT marketing tactics you use.
Only 17.44% of entrepreneurs set themselves an exact income goal, target and deadline
It might sound like we’re being pedantic, but having EXACT income goals, targets and deadlines is key for any business success.
If you’ve ever worked for a company, it’s likely you had targets to hit. When you hit them, you get rewarded – if it’s a nice company, that is. When you miss them, you examine how you could do better or what changes you need to make.
You need to do the same in your own business. You need to wear two hats:
- the CEO of the business – the big boss who sets the targets, deadlines and income goals
- the person doing the work (or delegating it) – to hit those targets
Just make sure you reward yourself when you hit those targets! Rewarding yourself is something we teach our Rebels members. Because, often, business owners are hard on themselves when they miss a target and only have a quick five-minute celebration when they do hit one, before getting back to work.
You have to reward yourself for hitting targets because this motivates you to keep hitting them. Even if that’s as simple as a meal out or ice cream. (We like food – can you tell?)
Or it could be that little something you’ve wanted to buy for a while.
Whatever it is, treat yourself. 😉
Most small business owners are trying to sell multiple products or services, but is this the best thing to do?
The majority of freelancers and entrepreneurs (54.86%) we surveyed said that they ‘have multiple offerings they’re trying to push’.
We are constantly told about the benefits of having multiple income streams, so you’d assume that pushing multiple products or services would be a good thing, wouldn’t you?
We’re actually a little sceptical of this. When you’re trying to sell too many things, you split your attention and run the risk of confusing your audience (who won’t have a clear idea what you do).
You’ll also have to deliver multiple different products or services, which can be more time-consuming than just simply focusing on one thing and repeating the process of delivering it over and over again.
This is why we’re not surprised that the majority of business owners who described themselves as having rapid growth focused on only selling their most profitable service/product.
It’s better to go all in on one product or service – spending a good chunk of time selling and delivering it – rather than spreading yourself too thin with too many offers!
Only when a service is fully delegated or automated, should you move on to offering other services/products. (At the beginning of your business journey you may have to experiment a little to find what that one thing is however.)
Nearly half of small businesses spend at least a few hours each week on marketing (but wish it was more).
There’s a big ole chunk of freelancers who spend hardly any time on marketing (30.48%) and another chunk (43.75%) who wish they spent more time on it.
As we said earlier, the more time you dedicate to marketing your business, the faster it will grow.
But you can’t dedicate time to marketing unless you make time. Doing ALL the work and finding time for marketing is super tricky. That’s why you have to look at raising your prices (and serving fewer people) or outsourcing to help you find more time.
For example, let’s say you hire a VA for £30 an hour, for five hours a month. That’s £150 a month.
Now imagine if you used those five hours to get prospective clients on sales calls, deliver training in other people’s communities or write an email campaign to promote your product or service. The likelihood is, you’d earn that money back in no time!
The good news: nearly a quarter of micro-business owners spend more time on their business than in it!
Interestingly, 24.46% of freelancers and entrepreneurs spend more time working “on their business than “in their business – whoop, whoop!
This is what we should all be aiming for, because when you have more time to work on your business, you will see rapid growth and success.
When we say this to business owners, they tend to worry that if they spend more time on their business, their customers won’t like it. They feel guilty at the thought of not doing “the work”.
But when you have more time to work on your business, you deliver a better service to your customer. You have time to think about how to make customer service better, improve onboarding and deliver your services more efficiently.
We’d much prefer to work with a calm, collected business owner who hands off tasks to their team than one running around trying to put out fires every five minutes!
So ditch the guilt and aim to be the business owner that works more on the business than in it!
A whopping 56% of small business owners struggle to sell on demand
Wow. This is HUGE!
Only 4.24% of small business owners know exactly how to sell on demand (38.35% have a rough idea).
Learning how to sell, and not just market yourself, is an incredibly useful skill.
We’re really not ones to talk about money. Everyone is different, and the amount of money someone needs/wants will be different too. But we’re going to use ourselves as an example of how to sell on demand here.
A good friend challenged us to make $60,000 in 10 days.
So how the heck did we do that?!
Well, we didn’t invest in fancy sales pages, copywriting, videos or Facebook ads. We did none of that.
Instead, we focused on our higher ticket offers and set ourselves a goal.
Then, we focused on direct selling. We approached people in our audience who we thought would be perfect for our high ticket offer, and asked them to jump on a call to discuss it.
By day two, we already had calls in our diary.
We then, quite simply, spoke to people! No sleazy sales, just conversations with people we knew would benefit from our offer.
We took any rejections on the chin (and, actually, a few people who said no in the beginning said yes a few months later).
In the end, we made $98,000 in 10 days.
Without spending a penny on advertising.
With so many online communication and marketing tactics, selling face-to-face (or Zoom-to-Zoom) is a skill that’s becoming rare. But don’t dismiss selling, because it’s those who know how to sell that can raise money fast!
Over 88% of small business owners don’t get regular leads and sales from their websites
Eeeeek, that’s not a great stat for small business owners!
Your website should deliver you leads and sales on a regular basis, but this will only happen if you view your website as more than just a business card.
It’s not there to prove who you are when someone Googles you. It should:
- get you more traffic, such as from Google, when people ask questions
- convert that traffic into leads and sales.
One of the best ways to do this is by creating content on your website so you can get found on Google. You can write blog articles (just like this one) and focus on what your ideal audience is searching for.
Once on your website, you need to encourage your web visitors to sign up to your email list, and you can do that by having an irresistible lead magnet. You can learn more about how to create one of these just here.
Only 10.3% of entrepreneurs feel that they are ‘well known’ in their industry
The benefits of being well known in your industry are huge – people recommend you, trust you and pay more for what you have to offer.
You can only become well known once you learn how to grow your audience. (Nobody is well known if their fan base consists solely of their mum. Sorry!)
And what do you need to grow your audience? Yes, of course, you need a marketing strategy and an action plan. But more than anything else – TIME!
Becoming the go-to person in your industry takes time on your part to grow your audience. You need time to create content, get in front of other people’s audiences such as appearing on podcasts or developing that amazing lead magnet people have to sign up to.
The “how you do it” doesn’t matter as much as the “making the time to do it”. We can all make grand plans about how we’re going to build our audience, but we need to make time to do that stuff we’ve planned. And, yes, we sound like a broken record – we know. 😂
We also think a degree of self-confidence comes into play here… Many people who are well known don’t feel like they are and it takes a certain amount of self-assurance to think this about yourself.
In general, we find that most people are more well known than they feel they are. After all, you don’t know the extent of your impact and how many people you truly reach.
Over 66% of entrepreneurs have zero employees OR regular outsourced team members
Does this matter?
Of those who experienced rapid growth, 71% either had a member of staff or paid a regular outsourced team member (such as a VA).
We’re not surprised by this at all – we’ve already explained the benefits of gaining that time back in your business. But there’s another added benefit to having a member of staff or outsourced team member: accountability.
When you pay someone else, you have to earn that money back. It holds you to account. It forces you to get out and make sales, focus on marketing or upsell to your current clients.
And as we saw, of the people who had rapid growth, 82% had some form of accountability.
That’s why our Goal-Getters programme works so well. You get weekly calls with an accountability specialist, weekly coaching calls to help you when you get stuck AND you can earn £100 back every month if you achieve 75% of your goals – if that isn’t motivating, we don’t know what is!
For 37.5% of small business owners, the income from their business is essential for living
This brings us nicely onto our next point.
It’s interesting that more people aren’t reliant on their income, but you need to have a certain level of security before starting your business journey. For example, it takes time to grow a business, so I will rely on my partner’s money for the first few years.
Here’s the tricky thing about that…
The less you need the money, the less incentive you have to put yourself out there and make it.
We’ve found the more that’s at stake, the more successful your business is likely to be.
That’s why some business owners who said they’d still live comfortably, even if they made no money from their business, appeared to struggle more in certain key areas.
Of those that said they didn’t need the money to live:
- 57% have an email list of only 0–50 people
- 53% try to create regular and consistent content but aren’t always great at keeping it up
- 54% said their business growth is very slow.
This makes sense. Typically – although we’re sure not always – the more you need your business to be a success, the more likely it will happen.
Fewer than 20% of small business owners create and publish traffic-generating content consistently!
No, we don’t mean social media content here. We mean “traffic-generating” content – content that will attract organic traffic through people searching for what they need.
- A blog, where you naturally attract traffic from people searching on Google
- a YouTube channel, where you naturally attract traffic from, well, YouTube!
- a podcast, where you naturally attract podcast listeners.
The problem is, a lot of business owners take a more haphazard approach to this, and just waste time.
If you’re wanting to get organic traffic and grow your audience, you have to make a commitment to do it.
We recommend you pick one platform (if you try to do two or three right away, you’ll likely burn out!) and commit to creating consistently good content on that platform.
You can always repurpose it on your social media platforms too! For example, some people get 6–8 LinkedIn posts out of a blog post!
Over 50% of entrepreneurs have under 50 email subscribers
Have you ever heard the phrase, “the money is in the list”?
Well, there’s some truth to that.
Having an engaged email list means you can make sales on demand, simply by emailing your list.
It means you’re not so reliant on referrals for sales – you never know when you’re going to get a referral and whether they’ll be a good fit for you.
You also won’t have to rely on social media to reach your audience. Algorithms change daily and you may find yourself struggling to reach your audience when something changes.
Having your own email list puts you in control over the types of clients you attract, when you sell and how much you can sell.
To learn how to add 1,000 email subscribers to your business, check out our blog post on how to grow your audience.
The majority of small business owners would like more accountability
When we think about running a successful business, accountability is rarely something we think of as a way to get there.
But, actually, having accountability makes a huge difference.
Think about it – if you were employed, the likelihood is you’d have regular meetings with your manager and the rest of the team. You’d have to keep people updated via email or Slack as to where you’re up to. You’d hear the words, ‘So how are we getting on with XYZ?’
Yes, maybe the reason you quit your job (or plan to in the future) is because you don’t want to experience any of that again.
BUT, don’t be so quick to kick accountability to the kerb, because that external pressure is what can kick your bum into gear and get you doing the things that will grow your business!
That’s why we’re not surprised that 82% of business owners who have experienced rapid growth have had some form of accountability.
Most entrepreneurs enjoy most of what they do, and over half love it! ❤️
We’ll end on a high, shall we? Because this is music to our ears!
Over 93% of businesses enjoy what they do, with 52.78% saying they love it!
This is why micro-businesses and freelancers like you got into business, right? We know that running a business isn’t easy-peasy all the time. But the fact that the majority of small business owners and freelancers enjoy it or love it has to be a good thing!
Take the assessment yourself
We want to say a HUGE thank you to our audience who took the quiz. To each and every one of you, we’re here to champion your business and help you make it a success!
You can take the assessment here, it’s called the ATOMIC Success Predictor.
It’s completely free to take and will show you what areas of your business need to be improved for massive growth and results.
What do we plan to do with this research in the future?
We plan to update this every year, as more business owners fill in the ATOMIC Success Predictor.
It’ll be interesting to see how things change!