An American Express OPEN study has found that while more than half of all small business owners pay themselves a regular salary, the average salary for small business owners has dropped when compared to the same period of time last year. And, while small business owners are moonlighting, they remain focused on their careers, hopeful, and striving to balance their home and family lives:

  • In 2013, business owners paid themselves $68,000 annually, compared to $72,000 in 2012.
  • In 2013, about 15 percent of small business owners surveyed reported that they needed to work a second job—in addition to running their own businesses—in order to break even.
  • More than four in 10 business owners say that they believe their revenues will increase.
  • More than half of the entrepreneurs surveyed say they have a positive outlook over their potential business prospects for this year.
  • One-third of all business owners surveyed say that they are making business growth a top priority.
  • Small business owners are no longer waiting and are moving ahead with business plans, according to the research.

“Small business owners appear poised to flip the switch to growth mode,” according to Susan Sobbott, president, American Express OPEN. Small business owners are—more and more—looking to social media and analytics to increase and build their businesses. For example:

  • About 50 percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed say they utilize social media as a component of their online marketing plans.
  • Some 71 percent of this 50 percent of the small businesses that use social media say they are using the technology to attract new customers.
  • About 60 percent of the small business that use social media say they do so to drive sales.

Numbers have also become big business to small businesses and more and more entrepreneurs are using numbers in their business plan to improve the way in which they handle customers and market their brands. “Business owners are getting more targeted in their approach to building customer demand and an increasing number are using analytics to better understand their customers and social media to drive sales,” Sobbott pointed out.

  • Most of the small business owners surveyed—80 percent—said they use numbers to gain a better understanding of their customers and also see benefits in analyzing consumer and sales data to reach their customers.
  • More than half—about 68 percent—of the entrepreneurs surveyed said their marketing is more effective when data analytics are employed.

Small business owners are still not bringing home as much as they would like, but they are making strides in their work-life balance efforts:

  • About 59 percent of the small business owners surveyed still say that they are stressed, trying to improve their work-life balance, which is down from 2007’s figure of 64 percent.
  • Compared to 2010, business owners are working about a half-hour less each day.

The American Express OPEN research was based on survey results from more than 1,000 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.


Brooks, Chad. “And, the Average Entrepreneur’s Salary Is …“; Fox Business News. October 21, 2013.