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Sole Proprietors are Happier on  their Own, but Feel Distracted and Overwhelmed  
Playing Multiple Roles

Sole proprietors, who make up
three-fourths of all small businesses,
lack the time and resources to focus
on generating new business,
according to a new survey from
Visa USA and SCORE "Counselors
to America's Small Business."

At the same time, the vast majority
say they are happier now than they
were at their previous employer, despite working as hard or harder.

"The day-to-day challenges faced by a sole proprietor are often overlooked for
broader, universal business issues like healthcare costs and the economy," said
SCORE CEO Ken Yancey. "Yet these individuals make up an overwhelming majority
of small businesses that may become larger, well-established brands in the future. It
is extremely important to identify and address their needs through education and
mentoring programs at an early stage to help them reach their full potential."

Sole Proprietors Seek to Focus on Generating New Business

Thirty-five percent of sole proprietors say their primary challenge in maintaining and
growing a small business is an inability to focus on generating new business, while
27 percent cite stretching themselves across multiple roles and projects. Other
challenges mentioned by sole proprietors include:

limited resources (23 percent)

lack of time to focus on their passions (23 percent)

difficulties in running their businesses efficiently (23 percent)

"Small business owners-and sole proprietors in particular-are constantly juggling
multiple projects, conflicting priorities and limited resources as they maintain and
grow their businesses," said Howard DeBow, vice president of marketing, Visa USA.
"By providing small businesses with tools that make it easier to manage their
finances, Visa is committed to helping business owners focus on what matters
most-their business goals and personal passions."

Most Would Hire for Growth, but Distrust Lingers

Of the 1,000 sole proprietors surveyed, 52 percent said that, with the help of an
additional employee, generating new business would become a focal point and
personal priority. Sole proprietors say they would use their newly available time to:

· evaluate and address their businesses' weaknesses/areas needing improvement (32

· focus on activities that they are most passionate about (26 percent)

Respondents stated that they would delegate marketing (28 percent), sales (26
percent) and operations (25 percent) responsibilities to a new hire. Only five percent
said they would have their new employee handle their company's financial duties.  

When asked what prevented them from hiring an additional employee, 69 percent
cite a lack of available budget;16 percent cite work-style personality; and 13 percent
say distrust or an unwillingness to share the workload keep them from adding to
their team.

Women & Men Cite Different Reasons for Starting their Own Business

Most sole proprietors (69 percent) agree that 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 decision-maker. Women
cite "flexibility to create their own schedule and work environment" as a reason for
going into business alone (72 percent of women vs. 63 percent of men), whereas men
cite the promise of "freedom to operate as the main decision maker" (54 percent of
men vs. 46 percent of women).

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

About the Survey: Survey findings are based on a national online survey of 1,000
small business sole proprietors age 18 and over. The survey was conducted using
Survey Sampling International's Survey Spot nationwide Internet panel. Survey
respondents were required to own and manage their own business and employ no
other workers. The poll was conducted from July 17 to July 25, 2006. The survey
results have a margin of error due to sampling of no more than plus or minus 3
percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
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Marcia Passos Duffy, Publisher & Editor
Author of
Be Your Own Boss

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