26/01/2016 11:08 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Small Business Owners Are Loving The Self-Employed Life

Marc Romanelli via Getty Images
Small business owner in cafe

Australian small business owners are embracing the flexibility that being your own boss allows, with more than two-thirds saying they are satisfied with their work-life balance.

In the recent MYOB Business Monitor Study, 65 percent of small business owners said they were satisfied with their work-life balance, up 14 per cent on last year’s figure.

Most small business owners were happy with the flexibility afforded to them by being their own boss, with 39 percent reporting they went into small business to control their own destiny and 32 percent to be able to do what they want, when they want.

MYOB CEO Tim Reed said this need for flexibility came from a desire to challenge the status quo.

“Entrepreneurs, almost by definition, seek to redefine existing boundaries and frameworks,” Reed said.

“They rail against the status quo and challenge the accepted wisdom. All small business owners have this streak. I think this core character trait is what drives business owners’ love of flexibility.

“Many don’t go into business because they’re not happy with their ability to earn an income working for someone else; but rather because they feel constrained working by someone else’s rules.

“This need for independence and desire to be accountable are some of the traits that I find most inspiring in my conversations with business owners.”

Some small business owners even prioritised this flexibility and desire for a satisfying work-life balance over the growth of their business.

“Entrepreneurs are seeing greener pastures than the traditional career ladder and taking success into their own hands,” Reed said.

“Less than one in five (19 percent) prioritised growth as a long term goal. While all want to have a commercially successful business, for many, seeking work-life balance is more important than growing their business.

“In the early years it is normal for business owners to prioritise financial viability. Once they have crossed a certain financial threshold, however, for many gaining some balance in their life becomes their most important goal.”

Small business owners love the flexibility that working for themselves allows.

Passion was also a key motivator for those starting a small business, with 29 percent saying they’re passionate about what they do, 27 percent saying they started a business because they wanted a total lifestyle change and 13 percent because they wanted to spend more time with family.

Reed said it was encouraging that small business owners were succeeding in creating the job -- and lifestyle -- that best suited them.

For small business owners, business isn’t business, it’s personal,” he said.

“ Small business owners see their business as an extension of themselves. If their business offers poor service they feel they have offered poor service. They take personal pride in their businesses ability to grow and develop employees and to add to the local community.

“At MYOB we’re therefore very encouraged to see that many small businesses are extending this frame to make sure they are creating both a job and lifestyle that suits them. One of the great things about being your own boss is that you’re able to make these trade-offs.”

An area that small business did consistently struggle with was finding and managing staff.

The top challenges were:

  1. Ability to find new staff (27 percent)
  2. Dealing with payroll compliance, e.g student loans, child support payments (21 percent)
  3. Process of hiring new staff (19 percent)
  4. Ability to dismiss employees (10 percent)
  5. Demand for flexible working hours (17 percent)

MYOB CEO Tim Reed.

“Compliance and red tape were also a theme in the next two challenges, end of year paperwork (eg payment summaries) at 16 per cent and understanding health and safety compliance being a pain point for 10 per cent,” Reed said.

“Considering that simplification of the GST/BAS reporting system continues to be high on SME wish lists, we can see there’s still progress to be made in terms of simplifying other regulation and reporting for small business.”