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Man Creating | Business Owner

The Top Challenges 28-55 Year-Old Self-Employed Married Fathers Face

With $100 in credit at the real-time survey tool 1Q (referral link), I had the idea this past weekend to send an open-ended question to business owners as a way of exploring topics I could write about here on this blog. I set up my AskVert (what 1Q calls each survey panel) and sent out the question listed below. 

  • What's one of the biggest challenges (Business, Personal, Relational, anything...) you're facing right now?

The mini-survey went out to self-employed married men ages 28-55 with at least two children and earning at least $75k per year (a similar profile to myself). The question went out at 1:06 pm and within 41 minutes, I had one-hundred answers.

This open-ended question received a combination of short and expanded answers. Some answered with more than one challenge while two of the results were null (it's why the numbers don't add up to 100). Here's a summary of the results after I sorted through and organized them for a more effective understanding.

Top Business Challenges (37)

  • 13 | Business Challenges (General)
  • 11 | Business Growth: Sales, marketing, website traffic, generating leads, & landing customers.
  • 3 | Business Assets: Finding ideal homes for selling, growing vacation rental home portfolio, & Purchasing Equipment.
  • 3 | Growing Teams: Competent staff, business partner personal development, & people challenges.
  • 3 | Customer Retention, AR, & Communication: Followup, focus, effective AR, & competition.
  • 2 | Business Communication, & Operations
  • 2 | Business Capital: Business slowdown, financial problems, & available business loans.

One of the most persistent challenges facing business owners is finding, attracting, and securing new business. As a consultant focused on helping customers improve revenue, I don't have a lack of opportunity. It’s hardest to get the machine going, but once a business gets momentum, the sales, and marketing roll fairly smoothly as long as it's maintained well. Unfortunately, many companies never it make it that far. 

It also sounds like a few of the respondents are in the real estate industry. Buying and selling things is how many people make a living and locating these valuables create an external reliance to succeed. 

Finding the right people, growing those team members and establishing a self-healing harmony in the culture are hugely important factors for long-term sustainable success. This is another useful insights since I work with companies to help grow their team.

Keeping customers, staying in healthy conversation, getting paid on time, and preventing competitors from picking them off is also essential to long-term growth.  And the final two challenges include internal communication, operation, and financial obstacles.

As a former business owner and a current freelancer who works with them, I can relate to all of these challenges. Part of what drives me to help is the stress and challenges I faced on the entrepreneur's journey. My aim is to accelerate overcoming these difficult obstacles through writing on this blog, and working alongside the self-employed. 

Country, Community, Personal, Family, or Kid Related Roadblocks (37)

  • 7 | Personal Challenges (General)
  • 5 | Losing Weight
  • 4 | Personal Development: Confidence, focus, & motivation, & contentment (liking my house).
  • 3 | Relational Challenges
  • 3Marital: Keeping the marriage fire going in the midst of the chaos of life, communication, & divorce.
  • 3 | Parenting: Kids, finding the right babysitter, & legal challenges (Visitation Rights).
  • 3 | Time Management
  • 2 | Loss: Death of a parent or other family member.
  • 2 | Trump, & Bad Politicians
  • 1 | House Management: How to sell, and plan to build houses.
  • 1 | Schooling: Master's degree with a good grade.
  • 1 | Puerto Rico Disaster
  • 1 | Volunteering
  • 1 | Low-income housing
When it comes to challenges in this area, I can relate to many of these answers. Historically, I've struggled with confidence, focus, time management, and contentment. These deficiencies negatively impacted my work and relationships and required working through numerous personal pitfalls and weaknesses. While I've not had to deal with losing weight, one of my goals for the year is running regularly so I can live a healthier life. To do this while married and raising kids makes me wonder if it's even possible to juggle it all in a healthy way.
The first few years running the company, I was also getting my bachelor's degree in media and animation. It was difficult to be newlywed, running a business, and going to school. It seemed at times nothing was getting my full attention, but this speed bump did act as a helpful 'pace car' to my life. On the political front, I've spent an enormous amount of time stressed and fearful over the state of our country and world. On top of the personal elements of our lives, it can all feel overwhelming, so I look forward to continuing to speak into these challenges.

Financial Challenges (22)

  • 10 | Finances & Money (General)
  • 4 | Borrowing: Credit card debt, finding a million dollars, taxes, & paying bills.
  • 4 | College Savings: Children’s college.
  • 2 | Financial Advancement: Freedom.
  • 2 | Investment: Stock market or cash reserves, & planning for retirement.
Finances seem to be the thing that trips us all up. Sometimes it is foolish decisions while other times it feels like we've been led into a trap we can't escape. While I'm steering away from borrowing during this season of aggressive debt payoff, sometimes life gets in the way and debt is the option we choose. 
When it comes to college savings, I've mentally explored how we'll go about it, but thankfully we have something going on as the result of my father-in-law setting up college savings account for the kiddos. It's a stopgap, but not an answer.
Ultimately, we want financial margin so we can foster freedom. This financial surplus allows us to save, invest and live lighter. There's nothing quite like the heavy weight of debt.

Job-Related Obstacles (8)

It turns out some of our self-employed respondents took or are looking for traditional employment. Here are a few of their challenges.
  • 6 | Finding Work: Available opportunities, overqualified (too old), & a matching job.
  • 2 | Evolving In The Workplace: Adapting to a new position, moving up the ladder, & integrating into the culture.

As a lifelong business owner and freelancer, I've had only a few times where searching for a job was something I had to do. But, as many people as I've come across in this predicament, I certainly want to do what I can to help them succeed. 

For those in a job, how can they make progress, make an impact, and grow in their career? While it's not my primary focus on this blog, these team members are people who want and need assistance.

Survey Conclusions & Next Steps

Looking through these answers provides fuel for me to continue writing and working with business owners. My great-grandparents on both sides of the family were self-employed and that became a pattern for all the generations to follow. As a multi-generational entrepreneur, there's a unique history I have in understanding and helping others on this same path. The answers in this survey have inspired new ideas for future blogs and affirm many of the wonderful articles I've already written.
My mission is to Share Life with a vision of Thriving Together. Helping others overcome their challenges is one way to bring this vision to life. Join me (via email) this year as I continue to create content to serve business owners.
If there's a specific challenge you're facing, and you'd like me to write a blog post about it. Please contact me with the details.

Three Other Interesting Tidbits

  • 33 of the 100 self-employed respondents highest level of education was high school.
  • 23 of the 100 respondents had four or more children. Over half had three or more kids.
  • Only 13 of the respondents were registered, Democrats. The remainder were Republicans, Independents, and other.
If you’re interested in see the actual survey results and demographics click here to view.

A Lesson Learned Running This Survey

The last 1Q survey I ran led to an article elaborating on the number of people who want to freelance and how many already are in some capacity. It was my first t experience using the 1Q platform and each time I run an online panel, I learn a few insights on how to effectively execute them. 
After running this quick online panel, I realized I should have added a comment to request respondents elaborate on the answer since many people simply provided a one-word response. While these were helpful in indicating the area of challenge, they don't help to guide the content I blog about in the future.

Hero Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
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