Survey: Business Owners Have a Hard Time Drumming Up New Business

August 7, 2006 ( - Sole business proprietors are too strapped for time and resources to focus on garnering new business, a new survey found.

The survey by SCORE, a nonprofit group focused on entrepreneurs and small businesses, and VISA USA found that 35% of sole proprietors say their primary challenge in maintaining and growing a small businesses is an inability to focus on generating new business, while 27% say stretching themselves too thin is their biggest challenge.

Other challenges mentioned by sole proprietors included:

  • 23%, limited resources;
  • 23%, lack of time to focus on their passions;
  • 23%, difficulties in running their businesses efficiently.

Of the 1,000 sole proprietors surveyed, more than half (52%) just added an additional employee to give them additional time to generate more business. Respondents said they would use their newly available time to:

  • 32% said they would evaluate and address their businesses’ weaknesses/areas needing
  • 26% said they would focus on activities that they are most passionate about;
  • 28% said they would delegate marketing responsibilities to a new hire; 28% said they would delegate sales; and 25%, operations.
  • 5% said they would have their new employee handle their company’s financial duties.

Respondents had various reasons for not hiring an additional employee, with the most common reason (69%) being lack of funds. Sixteen percent cited work-style personality for not hiring an additional employee and 13% said distrust or an unwillingness to share the workload.

A majority of sole proprietors say they are happier now running a small business than they were at their previous employer (83%). However, nearly two-thirds (60%) say they work more or about the same as working for an employer.

There were disparities between women and men when it came to reasons for owning their own businesses. Sixty-nine percent of sole proprietors agree flexibility to create their own schedule and work environment was a reason they originally went into business for themselves, followed by the freedom to operate as the main decisionmaker.

Women cite “flexibility to create their own schedule and work environment” as a reason for going into business alone (72% of women versus 63% of men), whereas men cite the promise of “freedom to operate as the main decisionmaker” (54% of men versus 46% of women).