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Survey: Small Business Owners Feel Financially Cut off From the American Dream

Sep 26, 2018 • 4 min read
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      Research from OnePoll and Lendio shows that nearly 80 percent of entrepreneurs say they would take on more business debt in order to surmount the barriers to success

      SILICON SLOPES, Utah – September 26, 2018 – Seven in ten small business owners feel the American dream is harder to reach than ever before, according to a new survey conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Lendio. The new survey of 2,000 small and micro business owners examined the challenges of owning and operating a business and found that close to three quarters (72 percent) feel the old-fashioned dream is harder to achieve than it was, while a third (35 percent) say it’s a lot harder. Business owners reported economic uncertainty, hiring talented employees and general financial concerns as the top three barriers to attaining the American dream.

      Seventy-eight percent of the entrepreneurs polled said raising capital and the ability to expand are essential to achieving the dream, and they would gladly take on more debt in order to achieve it. A further 15 percent would take on “a lot” more debt to surmount the barriers to success. Yet nearly half of the survey respondents (48 percent) say the funding ecosystem around small business is broken. Only 40 percent of respondents felt they were able to borrow as much money as they wanted for their business, with 35 percent saying they feel financially underserved as a small business owner.

      Taking risks is another point of interest for small business owners, with nearly half (46 percent) agreeing it would have benefited their business if they had taken more risks early on. And while 78 percent believe you can maintain a business by bootstrapping and self-financing, nearly three in four respondents (71 percent) said that taking on loans and debt can lead to more growth down the line.

      “Most small business owners take a great deal of pride in bootstrapping their operations from the ground up, and rightly so,” said Brock Blake, CEO and founder of Lendio. “But savvy business owners also understand that a smart, proactive approach to taking on financing can catapult their success. These businesses are better able to support innovation, take advantage of growth opportunities and keep their doors open during tough times.”

      The average small business owner has taken on $72,271 in loans for their business, with one in four (23 percent) saying they’ve taken on even more than that. The poll also revealed that small business owners are more comfortable taking on business debt than personal debt, with respondents nearly twice as likely to say they’d take on business debt if it meant future growth. When asked how they currently fund their small business, personal funds came out on top, with 77 percent, followed by bank loans (34 percent), and borrowing money from friends and family (16 percent).

      “Unfortunately, many small business borrowers tend to be bank-loyal to a fault. While the majority of business owners want small-dollar loans and need access to funds immediately, banks are not equipped to serve them in this way,” said Blake. “Business owners need to know they have options. Online lenders with streamlined application processes are making it easier than ever to get funds for your growing business.”

      Key findings from the survey include:


      Personal funds 77%
      Bank loan 34%
      Borrowing from family/friends 16%
      Other funding 11%
      Donations from family/friends 9%
      Online lender 4%
      Angel investor 3%
      Venture capital 3%
      Crowdfunding 2%


      The economy 40%
      Hiring talented employees 38%
      Finding/retaining customers 35%
      Money issues 31%
      Health insurance for employees 30%
      Government regulations 30%
      Trying to do it alone 28%
      Lack of time 26%
      Understanding tax code 23%
      Staying current 21%


      Homeownership 48%
      Freedom to live how you please 48%
      Starting your own business 29%
      Having minimal debt 29%
      Retiring eventually 24%
      Becoming wealthy 20%
      Having a job in the field you went to school for 18%
      Graduating college 16%
      Having children 11%
      Upward social mobility 11%

      For more information about Lendio, visit

      About the author
      Melanie King

      As a reporter and editor, Melanie has written about everything from retail and tourism trends to economic development for regional newspapers, trade publications, and national magazines. As Lendio’s Director of Public Relations, she specializes in reporting fintech industry news and its impact on American small businesses. Melanie has a B.A. in Journalism from Brigham Young University. She is also a backpacker, runner, and mom of four.

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