By Rieva Lesonsky

Small business owners are feeling a little less optimistic about their companies and a little less satisfied with being their own bosses than they were last year, according to the DNA of an Entrepreneur study, a global poll by Hiscox of small business owners with fewer than 50 employees.

Half of small business owners are optimistic about the coming year, down from 55 percent who felt the same in last year’s survey. Why the decline? Small business owners say their greatest fear for the year ahead is a lack of government support (cited by 38 percent), being unable to attract new customers (35 percent) and having to pass on cost increases to customers (34 percent). Perhaps of more concern, 31 percent are worried they don’t have the financial resources to keep their companies afloat, while 21 percent are concerned about the rising cost of debt.

It’s not all bad news, though. Asked about their general attitudes toward their businesses, more than half of respondents (54 percent) are happier running their own businesses than they were as employees.

Asked to name the benefits of running a small business, respondents’ most common answers were the ability to set flexible working hours (51 percent), being able to influence the direction of their business (45 percent), taking greater pride in their work (43 percent) and having a greater feeling of control (43 percent). About four in 10 (39 percent) cite less bureaucracy and 38 percent say they have more scope for creativity.

On the downside, all of these benefits were cited by fewer respondents than last year, while 13 percent of respondents say there are no benefits to running a small business—up from 9 percent last year. Instead, they were doing so simply because they couldn’t find a job elsewhere.

How do you feel about running your own business? If you haven’t yet launched your business, I think this survey provides a pretty realistic view of the benefits of being your own boss. While only 9 percent of the respondents cited making more money than they did as an employee as one of their big motivators, small business ownership has rewards that go beyond just the financial.

If you’re feeling like running your own business isn’t as much fun as it used to be, maybe you need some help getting your business mojo back. An outside opinion like those from SCORE mentors can help you shake up your operations and figure out what steps to take if you feel like sales are falling short.

Don’t have a mentor? Visit to get matched with one and get advice 24/7.

  Rieva Lesonsky – CEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva |