Small Business Owner  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotSmall business is the backbone of the economy. Whether they sell bikes, coffee, computers or ideas, small businesses provide valuable services and create many new jobs.

dotBusinesses with fewer than 200 employees are considered to be small businesses. This includes home-based businesses, restaurants, retail stores, franchise outlets -- any business that offers a product or service.

dotOwning and operating a small business takes lots of work and dedication. In many cases, the small business owner is in charge of running the business as well as doing the books, the ordering, the advertising and anything else that's needed.

dotSuccess isn't guaranteed in small business. It's a fact people have to accept if they're going to start up their own business. Relatively few small businesses survive their third year.

"There are no guaranteed paychecks in small business -- no work, no eat," says Walter Daniels, a small business owner in Indianapolis.

dotDespite the hard work involved, operating a small business doesn't have to be physically demanding.

"After a serious car accident, I had to regroup and find another way to work. So I started a home business," says Daniels.

dotOwning your own business can make for some pretty long days, especially in the beginning.

"I can remember more than a few 14-hour days in the beginning. I was like the walking dead," says Marlene Cox, another small business owner.

dotOwning a small business has a downside. Unlike salaried employees, entrepreneurs never know how much money they will earn each month. Some new entrepreneurs "burn the candle at both ends," working many hours for little income.

"When it's your business, it is often hard to stop and take time to relax and recharge the batteries. There is always something that needs to be done and [the] likelihood is you're the only one around to do it. There is rarely a regular paycheck at the end of each month. I have been self-employed most of my adult life, and [I] envy people who are content to be an employee," says small business owner Sarah Moore.

dotThe daily duties of small business owners are as varied as the many kinds of businesses they run. But most agree that it takes more than a great idea and hard work to make a small business work. You need a good understanding of financial principles.

dotSome business ideas are more risky than others. For example, home-based businesses are more likely to succeed because the overhead and start-up costs are low. Restaurants and retail stores are costly to start up and are more likely to fail.

dotWhat you earn depends on the type of business you own and, of course, the success of that business. While some home-based businesses may earn less than $10,000 per year, there are small companies that earn millions every year.

dotExperts predict small business will continue to be a big force in the economy, with service industry ventures experiencing the most growth.

At a Glance

Do anything and everything needed to run a successful small business

  • Experts predict small business will continue to be a big force in the economy
  • Businesses with fewer than 200 employees are considered to be small businesses
  • Business training is essential