What do you like most about running your own business? When I ask that question I often get answers from entrepreneurs and biz owners like: “Being my own boss” or “Having control over my time” or “Being able to make more money” or “The challenge of creating something.” In other words, the answers are usually about “me, me, me!”
But there’s an interesting study that claims to measure what matters most to business owners – and it’s not what you might think.
Turns out, small business owners are not all that self-centered. What matters most is actually our customers and our employees.
Customers come first. Employees come second. And business owners themselves follow that.
The number one factor that matters most to business owners is “customers who appreciate what we do.”
This insight comes from The Guardian Life “Index of What Matter Most.” It is an ongoing research initiative that says it “provides a better way to understand how America’s small business owners think and act, based on a new, proprietary research methodology.” Here are the top 15 rankings of what matters most from the Guardian Life Index:
What Matters Most to America’s Small Business Owners
- Customers who appreciate what we do (5.8)
- Keeping the customers we have from leaving (5.6)
- My employees (5.5)
- Freedom (5.3)
- Keeping customers happy (5.2)
- Whatever matters most to our customers is what matters most to me (5)
- Being able to make my own decision (4.9)
- Finding some way to be noticeably different from competitors (4.9)
- Quality of my staff (4.7)
- Setting my business apart from our competitors (4.7)
- Figuring out ways to take advantage of any economic condition (4.7)
- Creating a positive working environment for all (4.6)
- Giving our employees reasons to feel better about being part of our team (4.3)
- Being able to have the satisfaction of creating something of value (4.3)
- Doing something for a living that I love to do (4.2)
So what about money? Money ranks pretty low on the list.
The Index overall paints a picture of business owners as “self-directed, diligent optimists.” Not whiny kids begging for government assistance as is sometimes portrayed on Capitol Hill – but rather people who largely depend on themselves and relish finding their own way.
The Index is based on data collected by Guardian Life from an online poll of more than 1,100 business owners in May of 2009. The Index ranks the positive and negative intensity of responses to a variety of questions.
Guardian Life has set up a microsite to house their research at Smallbizdom.com (for “Small Business Wisdom”). There is also a fact sheet that summarizes the research findings, and the full findings in a PDF, under the “Research” tab of the site.