By Nestor E. Arellano

Perennially understaffed, under budget constraints and working long lonely hours might be the stereotypical image of small business owner. However, two separate surveys recently released this month paint quite a different picture.

Nestor Arellano

Nearly half (46 per cent) of SMB owners polled, work beyond a 40-hour work week, according to a survey by Angus Reid Public Opinion which was commissioned by Intuit Canada, makers of the small business accounting software QuickBooks.

Amazingly, SMB owner appear unfazed by their longer work schedules. As much as 84 per cent of those polled feel they have a better work-life balance than if they were working for someone else, the survey found. 

Given these figures, I can’t help but replay in my mind what usually happens in the four or five offices that I have worked in. The moment the computer clock hits 4:50 pm, you would hear the rustling on papers and the tapping of keyboards to shut down the PCs. By 5 pm everyone makes a bee line for the exit.

Company pension, paid vacations, health and vision benefits and cooler you don’t have to refill and office you don’t need to sweep, and yes the right to knock off at 5 whether your boss likes it or not. These are some of the awesome benefits employees enjoy over the self-employed. 

Obviously SMB owners tread a different tightrope than most employed workers. They have traded-in the security of the regular salary, for the freedom of choice and flexibility of being their own boss.

Three in five of SMB owners interviewed feel that they “have all the work-life balance the need,” according to the survey.

“Even though they work far longer hours, it’s their sense of ownership over the work they do, the ability to set their own schedule and do what they want that contributes to their sense of balance,” says Barb Anderson, product marketing leader for QuickBooks.

A different survey, this one carried out by Angus Reid Forum and commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in partnership with Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., and Intel of Canada Ltd., shows that Canadians in general have a very high regard for SMB owners.

The respondents put SMB owners second only to farmers as the persons they most respected. Banks, government and unions were in the bottom three of the list.

Being sponsored by tech companies, the survey of course also addressed the technology issues faced by SMBs.

The CFIB survey found that SMB owners are generally happy with the tech investments they have made. As much as 80 per cent of those interviewed said they believe their purchases either met or exceeded their expectations.

However, the survey also showed that SMBs are prone to spending the budget on traditional technologies such as desktops, laptops and mobile phones while newer tools such as cloud services and business intelligence products are used by only 15 and 14 per cent respectively.

 

Elaine Mah, business marketing manager for Intel Canada, believes the hesitance lies in the perceived uncertainty of getting a ROI from the purchase and a lack of confidence in being able to train employees to use the new tools.

One of the key to streamlining processes and reducing stress, according to Anderson of QuickBooks is to efficiently organize financial records. Rather than relying on envelopes and shoeboxes to store receipts, consider using an automated financial management software and tax software, she advised.

Here are a few more articles that provide some productivity boosting and tax saving tips:

 

How to save over $2,000 on productivity software

Get 100 per cent tax write-off on computer purchases

5 awesome free tools for small businesses

 

16 free tools to supercharge your productivity

 

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn,
read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs, email nestor at narellano@itworldcanada.com and join the ITBusiness.ca
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