NEW YORK — The “American Dream” isn’t dead, but according to a third of small business owners (31%), it needs to change. In a new survey of 1,000 small business owners, many think certain aspects of the traditional American Dream are a part of the past — such as owning a car and a home (37%) and believing in the free market economy (31%).
Instead, respondents are now focusing on helping their businesses thrive as part of their “new” American dream – which 71 percent believe is achievable through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work.
The American Dream is evolving
Results from the survey, commissioned by Xero, a global small business platform, and conducted by OnePoll, also find that nearly two in three (65%) believe they’re currently living the American dream. Meanwhile, 72 percent think there’s a difference between having a “personal” American dream and a dream for their business.
Although 38 percent of respondents say running their own businesses is part of their personal American dream, nearly as many agree that being self-made (32%) and providing for their families (30%) is also part of their life plans. However, achieving their dreams takes time, with 46 percent of business owners saying they have a four-to-five-year plan to reach their personal goals.
When asked what they would aim to accomplish first, 23 percent want to ensure they’re providing for their own future, 16 percent want to push for a good cause, and 14 percent want to put their family’s future first.
“Small businesses are the engine of the U.S. economy and it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a shift in how business owners perceive the American dream,” says Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager at Xero, in a statement. “Business owners are redefining what it means to be a self-made entrepreneur, and their aspirations for their business are closely tied to their new vision of the American dream. We’ve come to find that oftentimes, the American dream is inclusive of both professional and personal aspirations, and each side of the coin very distinctly influences the other.”
Small business goals
The vast majority of business owners (86%) say their businesses are an important part of their larger American dream. Three in five hope to expand their stores into a chain. More than a third (36%) say they currently own both a physical and online store, while 25 percent only have a physical store and 20 percent strictly do business online.
Respondents also shared the financial goals they have set for themselves and their businesses — which include giving their employees health and retirement benefits (40%), having enough money to spend freely (36%), and paying their employees more (34%). Five in six people believe being “financially comfortable” is their American dream.
“Bringing the two separate worlds — both professional and personal — of a business owner together and connecting the different elements of business management by using technology can help owners be in control of their goals,” Richmond adds. “It can also help them focus on the passion that got them into business in the first place.”