Study says being self-employed means having no work/life balance for many Californians

The allure of entrepreneurship captivates many: the autonomy of being your own boss, the satisfaction of earning independently, and the ambition to make it big. Yet, beyond this enticing veneer lies a less discussed truth. Many entrepreneurs, having poured their resources and countless hours into their ventures, confront a stark reality that exiting involves more than just financial costs; it also means grappling with personal pride and the challenge of starting over.

A recent survey by involving 3,000 small business owners illuminates this issue. An astonishing 45 percent of small business owners in California expressed a desire to leave their businesses, but felt unable to do so due to various constraints. Moreover, almost 1-in-5 say they have no work life balance.

The sentiment of being trapped varies significantly across regions; for instance, a notable 65 percent of entrepreneurs in Oklahoma wish to disconnect completely from their businesses, whereas in Iowa, the majority appear more content, with only 22 percent expressing a desire to exit.

Delving deeper into the reasons that tether these owners to their businesses, the survey identified several key factors. Emotional attachment emerges as the primary barrier, with 37 percent of respondents citing deep personal connections to their businesses as the main reason they cannot leave. Financial dependence is another significant factor, with 25 percent relying on their business income as their primary financial resource.

Additionally, 20 percent of business owners face economic barriers to selling their businesses at a profitable price, while 19 percent encounter a scarcity of suitable buyers, further complicating their exit strategies.

The challenges of running a small business extend beyond the difficulties of exiting. According to the survey, the biggest hurdle faced by entrepreneurs is time management, highlighted by 39 percent of respondents. Other significant challenges include financial constraints, cited by a quarter of the participants, and finding and retaining customers also remains a critical concern for 15 percent of the business owners.

The importance of work-life balance is overwhelmingly recognized, with 72 percent of respondents stating it as very important to them. This underscores the broader implications of the demanding nature of entrepreneurship on personal well-being.

The survey also addressed the technological aspects of business operations. It reveals that nearly one in three entrepreneurs (30 percent) are not familiar with AI-driven solutions for business automation, which could potentially alleviate some of their operational burdens.

Moreover, only 43 percent of respondents feel satisfied with the current level of automation in their businesses, indicating a significant gap in the adoption and satisfaction with modern technological solutions.

Finally, when queried about the most time-consuming aspects of their business operations, respondents identified administrative tasks (31 percent), customer service (29 percent), marketing and sales (24 percent), and product or service development (15 percent) as the primary areas where they spend the most time.

“In the pursuit of entrepreneurial dreams, it is important to remember that sometimes the greatest act of courage is knowing when to let go, to pivot, or to start anew. It’s also important for entrepreneurs to at least become familiar with the variety of automation tools that exist and are getting better each day. These tools can drastically save time and resources, boosting business efficiency and paving the way for greater success,” said Daniel Vasilyeu of

Survey methodology surveyed 3,000 small business owners and used internal data sources to obtain population data sets. They also employed a two-step process to ensure representativeness through stratified sampling and post-stratification weighting.

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