A startling number of business owners are disillusioned and have lost sight of why they are in business, My Business can reveal, in a worrying sign for the state of play for Australian SMEs.
In a recent poll on the My Business website, readers were asked the following question: Given the pressures involved with operating a business, why do you remain self-employed?
The results paint a bleak picture for business ownership in Australia.
Of the 282 people who responded, well over a third (40.8 per cent) confessed that they aren’t sure anymore – the most common answer by far.
Sadly, 5.7 per cent said that being self-employed was the only way they could get a job.
It wasn’t all bad news though – almost one in six business leaders (16.3 per cent) said they enjoy running their own business, while a similar number (16 per cent) prefer to be their own boss.
A further 15.2 per cent operate their business as a means of building an asset for the future.
The lucky remaining 6 per cent said they are in business to earn more than they could as an employee.
It comes despite a separate survey conducted earlier this year by Vistaprint found that self-employed people enjoyed considerably higher career satisfaction than employees.
Mark Bilton, head of leadership consultancy Thought Patrol and former managing director of Gloria Jeans Coffees, suggested the findings are not surprising given the sheer volume of expectations and demands on the modern business leader.
“High new venture failure rates, costly compliance and time-consuming administration can all take a toll on small business owners,” he told My Business.
“Often they have swapped a job for a business where they work harder and get paid less. The expectation of the dream to ‘be your own boss’ can have a deceptive allure.”
Upskilling is a good way for disillusioned business leaders to reinvigorate themselves and their passion for business, Mr Bilton suggested.
“It’s clear that business training reduces failure rates. A clear point of difference, focus on adding value, cash flow management and customer acquisition strategies, all improve the chances of success,” he said.
“The work may still be hard and long, but producing results, successfully serving clients and growing an asset can be very rewarding.”
Mr Bilton added: “The old mantra of ‘work on the business, not in the business’ is a cliche but none the less true.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.