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New small biz owners work smarter and live larger: Amex

"Lifestyle entrepreneur" trend on the rise – 56% of small business owners under 45 say they eat, sleep and breathe their business.

May 4, 2015   by PLANT Staff

TORONTO — Small business owners in Canada are taking a new approach to work-life balance, according to a recent survey by American Express Canada.

With longer hours and a shift to constant connectivity, small business owners (SBOs) are redefining the balance and tipping the scales in their favour to reclaim control of their entrepreneurial lifestyle.

The American Express Small Business Monitor reveals SBOs aren’t solely motivated by the conventional benefits of running a business. While the pursuit of profit is still a key motivator, the study suggests their priorities have shifted towards flexibility and the advantages of being your own boss.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of small business owners agree independence is a top benefit and 50% appreciate their decision-making power and creative freedom, which suggests SBOs recognize the nature of work is changing as the boundaries between work and personal life begin to disappear.

A new generation of SBOs are embracing ‘lifestyle entrepreneurship’ by creating businesses that fit within their personal lives, and as they seek to harmonize their work and personal lives they’re simultaneously redefining SBO lifestyle norms. While 96% of SBOs state work-life balance is important, 55% of respondents say their work and personal lives blur because their business is their passion.

This trend of work-life integration is especially common among younger SBOs, as 56% of those under the age of 45 say they eat, sleep and breathe their business.

“SBOs are building businesses that fit within their lifestyle, often depending on technology to bridge the gap,” says Tim Elgar, Director Small Business Services, American Express Canada.

In an age of constant connectivity, 64% say technology makes it nearly impossible to disconnect from work, and almost half (41%) say they check their email or phone over 20 times a day. Yet, 75% don’t necessarily believe it stands in the way of achieving work-life balance.

SBOs are becoming increasingly savvy on how to get the most out of their entrepreneurial lifestyle as a solid 67% agree they have a thorough understanding of how to maximize the benefits. They also understand how to make business expenses work for them – 89% say they take advantage of credit cards that reward them for spending.

While almost half (48%) say they feel married to their business, when asked how they’d spend extra leisure time, the majority (85%) say they plan to travel more.

Expansion and business growth remains a key focus for small business owners as 38% say it’s their company’s single most important priority over the next six months, up 4 points since last quarter (34%) and up 5 points since March 2014 (33%).

“Business owners are demonstrating a renewed focus on growing their business,” says Elgar. “With a strong 2014 behind them, they’re driving full speed ahead looking to leave their mark this year.”

The majority (85%) are confident about business prospects over the next six months, down 3 points from last quarter (88%) and up 1 point since March 2014 (84%). An impressive 86% are also willing to take risks for their business in the next six months, up 2 points from last quarter (84%), and no change since March 2014 (86%).

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