A wide-ranging report published by Hiscox, an international specialist insurer, gives a unique and revealing portrait of entrepreneurs in the United States and Europe as they cope with another year of economic crisis. Despite financial pressures, stresses, and sleeplessness, they still have faith in their futures and maintain the determination to succeed.
The 2012 Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur Study reports findings from research of 3,000 owners or partners in small and midsize businesses in six countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain.
Bronek Masojada, CEO at Hiscox, said, "Our fourth annual study of small businesses confirms what we know from working closely with them: they consider and manage a wide variety of local, national, and global risks every day while keeping faith in their values and ambitions. We hope that the insights in our study will help all those supporting small businesses make their essential contribution to economic recovery."
Key Themes of the Study
Optimism presides: Many more small businesses are optimistic than pessimistic, despite tough times in the last year.
Working hard for new customers: A majority of small businesses in five out of six countries reported increases in new customers. The average workweek for the small business owner is 42.8 hours, but Germans work nearly 8 hours longer per week, on average, than their US counterparts.
Stresses and strains: The economic downturn has brought more stress to 43 percent of small business owners, and 31 percent reported sleeping problems. More women reported stress, sleeplessness, and health problems than men.
Eager but lacking language skills: Small businesses that had recruited school graduates gave the graduates higher ratings for "keenness and motivation" than for language skills.
Few small businesses seek outside help: Only 22 percent of small businesses had turned to outside help from elected representatives and business groups; those that did preferred a business organization or a local representative rather than a national politician.
Sample and methodology
Respondents were owners or partners of small businesses in six countries and were predominantly service-based (79 percent). Ninety-two percent had below $1.54 million in annual revenue; 61 percent $154,000 or below. Forty-one percent were one-person businesses, and 73 percent had fewer than five employees. Fifty-six percent of respondents were men, 44 percent were women. Fifty-four percent of respondents were aged 40-59, and 35 percent were under 40.
The research was conducted for Hiscox by The Survey Shop. The sample was drawn from online panels. Three thousand owners/partners took part July 17-26, 2012. Statistical accuracy: +/- 1% to +/- 1.5% for the whole sample of 3,000 and +/-2% to +/-4% for each country's sample of 500.