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"Micro" Businesses Remain Happy, Poised for Growth

Posted by Jason Keith  October 21, 2011 06:00 AM

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Recently you’ve heard me talk about the big difference between the term “small business” and what small businesses actually are.  Research has proven that the majority of the small business community is actually made up of companies that have between 1-19 employees.  But deeper in the research was a statistic that there were 21.7 million non-employer firms in the U.S. in 2007.  These are people that claimed income from a business they operate but don’t actually employ anyone but themselves. 

Happiness Index Picture

These hard working people are actually a sub-group of the small business community, commonly referred to as “micro businesses.” They are the small of the small, with typically less than 10 employees and most commonly are self-employed or sole proprietors. Like their small business brethren, they also have little desire to grow and are happy staying small, but they have some varying attitudes about their business and how they run them. Overall they are very optimistic, happy to be running their own ventures and love being their own boss.  But they also are wary of a failing economy and because of their desire to succeed, are working extremely hard.  In many ways they are forced to because in the end, their success depends solely on their ability to deliver, not anyone else. 

Vistaprint recently released a quarterly “Happiness Index” related to micro business owners, showing that they are still happy or extremely happy running their own business (consistently at 77% for two quarters). While this isn’t necessarily surprising, some of the additional results are; including 76% thinking that the national economy is not making a recovery, 85% working at least one weekend a month (or more) in their business, and just a shade under 50% not taking a vacation from their business this past summer.

Swinging back to the positive side, 68% are on track to make as much or more revenue than they did last year, while another 50% have more customers than they did last year. (Although this is down 7% from last quarter, according to the numbers.)  The numbers overall are still up, but many are lagging from the previous three month span. 

Another hot debate has been how much small businesses are adopting social media for use in their business marketing. It’s clear that the major platforms like Facebook are starting to cater to the small business community and in many ways succeeding.  According to this survey, Facebook remains the most popular social network for micro businesses, with 48% using it.  LinkedIn, by comparison, garners just 7%.  Other surveys have also found that small businesses are flocking to Facebook.  

Finally, because everyone loves a good smartphone face-off, it appears that the Android phone platform is winning out amongst this group, with 43% preferring it over the iPhone, which ranked second at 31%. 

Do you consider yourself a micro business? Are you surprised at the results in the survey, or are they where you would have expected them to be?


This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

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