16 Aug

The shocking results of our ‘real business’ campaign

So, it’s the month following our ‘real business’ campaign, and we want to have a little chat about how it went. The aim of the campaign was to get a ‘real’ view of what it means to be a business owner from you guys. There are so many stereotypes for ‘entrepreneur’ – and most involve living a glamorous lifestyle and driving nice cars.

But – is this the reality?

We set out to expose what it’s really like to be a business owner in 2018, bringing the small business community together.

Let’s start with the survey and the results

Prior to the campaign, we created a survey and sent it out to our existing lovely clients. It included 5 questions, all around how you felt, as a business owner, about social media. We received a high number of replies which was fab.

From the survey, we found some pretty shocking results:

94% said that the media and social media does not give an accurate portrayal of small businesses and entrepreneurs 

71% said they feel under pressure to live up to a certain image of a business owner or entrepreneur 

74% said they feel under pressure to seem perfect (as a business owner) on social media 

Hearing all your real business stories

We loved hearing all your stories of what its really like to run a business.

The campaign offered business owners the opportunity to speak out about the stress of maintaining relationships with customers and clients, answering the phone, chasing payments, keeping up with the workload, sticking to scheduled events – all while also juggling some kind of personal life on the side.

Here are some of the stories we received…

  • ‘’Social media, for whatever reason, only seems to people to promote the awards, 'the wins' and the laptop lifestyle. Wouldn't it be nice if we as business owners, could say, ‘do you know what? I am struggling and would really appreciate a chat with someone’. Sadly, it’s not socially acceptable to show these emotions, as they portray a weakness. Cut out negativity and surround yourself by like-minded people is the message.’’
  • ‘’Lots of chasing empty leads, trying to establish a client base, sleepless nights, no income, tax bills, trying to an adviser and all that a business needs in one person.’’
  • ‘’Seeing other companies and small businesses showboating on Facebook and Instagram doesn't make you feel secure in your trade. It made me feel depressed and like my business had no place.’’
  • ‘’With so many success stories visually present across social media, I found that trying to represent myself positively whilst also maintaining a successful 'actual day' hard. The stress of maintaining customer relations, answering your phone every time, sticking to scheduled diary events, dealing with unforeseen circumstances, invoicing people, chasing up payments and just trying to be a good person is especially difficult with social media platforms looming over you, comparing you to others and reviewing your performance in such an open and discriminative way. In some ways, it feels better to steer clear of social media altogether.’’
  • ‘’The "entrepreneurs" on social media that try to show an image of success are either really rich or people who do not make a penny yet want to show that they are up to things. I don't think there is yet a community of small business that shows the struggle considering the percentage is much greater than those successful.’’
  • ‘’Anything said in a personal capacity needs to be carefully vetted as people tend to judge you more harshly for it. You aren’t able to mention you have a problem or issue or mention how much you work as you’re self-employed and therefore rich and do nothing.’’
  • ‘’I feel like I can only share the good days. Because if I share the bad times or hard days then people won't buy from me because they'll think I'm a bad business person.’’
  • ‘’A person who owns their own business isn't always a millionaire as is the assumption - they work hard and sometimes only just make a living (myself included).’’
  • ‘’There is perhaps an assumption that running your own business means you are well off. Most business owners I know are not and they work very long hours.’’
  • ‘’Basically, running a business is hard work and if you make it you deserve every penny you make. Most ordinary people are under the impression that if you run a business you are wealthy and in a few cases that may be correct but the vast majority of business owners find it extremely hard and stressful.’’
  • ‘’I went through a pretty dark place about a year ago and really felt like I was doing badly. People seem to think that my business is running successfully and that I'm kicking backside every day and know what I'm doing. In reality, I can't get hold of clients, my figures don't always add up and I'm scrabbling through blogs and books to work out my next steps. I love what I do, I just wish I had more time, confidence and clue about how to do it better and make the business as successful as I would like it to be.’’
  • ‘’I struggled with trying to be upfront about representing a successful small business when the pressures of money, customers, being visually confident etc all come into play.’’

Is social media bad for business owner’s mental health?

Something we weren’t expecting was to get so many stories messaged with you guys asking to remain anonymous. It then struck us that this must be because many business owners didn’t feel confident in sharing their stories attached to their name – or business. This leads to a few questions…

  • Should we talk more about how difficult it can be running your own business?
  • Should we be more accepting of ourselves when we’re going through harder times?
  • Should we help to lift each other up in these times – rather than judge?
  • Does social media present a fake representation of entrepreneur?

Our mental health is important and, as good as it can be, social media puts pressure on business owners to be perfect and have it together.

It’s clear that we feel that as an entrepreneur, we shouldn’t struggle.

If there’s anything which should be taken from the campaign, it’s to take everything you see on the internet with a pinch of salt. You may only see the best bits of someone’s business journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Running your own business is hard – but there’s whole community who understand that the journey isn’t always smooth.


So, remember guys – even if things aren’t perfect - you’re doing great!


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