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Incfile is a small business community 1 million entrepreneurs strong.

Our no-holds-barred small business survey, based on feedback from those in the trenches and the general public, exposes the reality of entrepreneurship in the U.S. today. 

Our findings reveal the entrepreneurial spirit, the battles of small business owners, and what keeps them pushing forward.


Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs

Owning a small business is a demanding and rewarding journey — and America's sharp and relentless entrepreneurs are up for the challenge. They know the grind is worth it despite the tough times and unknowns. What weapons and resources would they have armed themselves with from the beginning? These are the challenges our small business owners identified.

Small Business Owners Crave Community and Knowledge

Where do business owners turn to for help? Unfortunately, a plurality of those polled told us they had nowhere to go.

Nearly a third, 31%, could not name any place online they trusted for day-to-day small business support.

For those who could, it was most commonly a bland and impersonal government website like IRS.gov (22%) or SBA.gov (21%). And community matters a lot. Entrepreneurs who are part of a small business community were nearly 60% more likely to report doing better this year than last.

Lack of community helps explain why a staggering 58% say that when starting out, they did not have access to all the knowledge, tools, and resources they needed for success.

A community provides the support needed for success — an essential ingredient for launching a sustainable business.


Introducing Our Community Forum

Get the small business support you need and motivate others along the way.


Is Starting a Small Business Worth It?

Small business owners aren't backing down. Nearly all believe the blood, sweat, and tears they've poured into their ventures have been worth it. It confirms what we already know at Incfile — entrepreneurship is extremely rewarding!

An overwhelming number of entrepreneurs, 72%, say what they do is challenging but worthwhile.

A happy-go-lucky 25% report that owning a business is both fun and easy in their experience. Only 22% say owning their business is not worth the sacrifice and hardship.

When you break down the demographics, men were slightly more likely than women to say business ownership is easy. Entrepreneurs (ages 18-34) were three times as likely to respond that business ownership is painful and not worth it.


Why Small Biz Owners Chose the Entrepreneur Life

We often hype the freedom and control that comes with being a small business owner, but the truth is, that's not why most of them took the plunge. A mighty 41% say their passion is why they started their own business. And 34% say they had no choice but to strike out independently due to financial constraints.

While the dream for many seemingly is to be the boss, a mere 15% went into business for themselves to call the shots. And don't discount the power of encouragement from loved ones; for 10%, it put them on the entrepreneurial path.

Interestingly, women were more likely than men to want to be their own boss, while Black respondents were likelier to say their passion was their primary motivation.


What Small Biz Owners Want: Less Stress, More Money

When we asked small business owners what they genuinely desire, the answers were clear: They want less stress and more money — don't we all? This highlights their particular challenges in today's economy and the importance of mental health.

According to the survey, 47% of small business owners want to reduce stress and other mental health concerns. An equal number (47%) crave more funding opportunities and grant access. Meanwhile, 37% wish for less bureaucracy and paperwork, and 33% long for more time off and relaxation.

Another stressor small business owners want to eliminate is the need to find and hire the right people (16%). And a recurring theme in this report is that many entrepreneurs (20%) want straight answers and community support.


The Key to Small Biz Success: Don't Let Passion Fade

What happens when that fire fizzles out? For 29% of those surveyed, it could spell the end of their biz. A lack of support (25%) and a shortage of resources (24%) were reported as additional factors contributing to failure. Black business owners were likelier than other minority groups to point to a lack of support or resources as the biggest threat to their business. Poor planning (22%) was also cited for business failure.


And there’s more to share about passion. A determined 48% believe that combined with drive, it’s essential for success. A pragmatic 39% say having the right tools and resources is crucial. And a mere 13% think entrepreneurship is only for some.


Do Small Business Owners Have Regrets?

Nope! Only a small number of entrepreneurs polled, 5%, said they wouldn't start a business again if they had a time machine — the majority who wouldn't start a business again identified as male. A whopping 95% of small business owners would choose entrepreneurship once again. An equally impressive 62% would learn, plan, and prep more before starting a business. A happy 23% are satisfied with their business journey, and 10% would still become entrepreneurs but choose a different business type.


Who Are the New Wave of Entrepreneurs of 2023?

We asked small business owners to share their top traits fueling their journey and to choose as many as they wanted. Our report debunks the widespread belief that entrepreneurs are risk-takers. 

The majority, 73%, say their top trait is being highly motivated, followed by those who identify as lifelong learners (54%). Fast learners weighed in at 53%, followed by risk-takers (51%) and creatives (47%).


Supporting Information

The Incfile survey on small business challenges polled 2,000 entrepreneurs who have started their businesses in the past two years. These businesses span 13 industries across the U.S. Other demographic details include the following:

  • Of those surveyed, 52% identified as female, and 48% identified as male.

  • Most were in the 24-44 age range.

  • 36% of respondents had completed higher education (college/university).

  • The sample included respondents fromsix races and cultural backgrounds.

  • Financial status was split; 50% earn less than $49,999, while 50% earn $50,000-$149,999 annually.