There’s no business like small business

To the intrepid entrepreneur getting ready to make a big bet on a big dream, I say to you: Go ahead, there has never been a better time to start a small business.

To the hard-working small business owner, I say to you: Way to go. There has never been a better time to own and run a small business.

And to those in corporate America, I say to you: Thank you. There has never been a better time to support small business.

The reason for all this optimism is that this is the golden age of small business, for all sorts of reasons (which I will belabor in a moment), but the bottom line is this: A confluence of attitudes, aptitudes, and interludes have created a time when starting, running, and growing a small business has never been easier, more affordable, or more acceptable.

Hooray, small business!

Sunday, April 29th, marks the start of National Small Business Week. Honoring our country’s small businesses is right for many reasons, including:

► Their incredible economic impact (there are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. versus 17,000 companies with more than 500 employees)
► The number of jobs they create  (about half of private sector employment), and
► Small businesses’ global impact (98% of all exporting firms are small businesses)

So yes, three cheers for small business generally. But that also raises the question: How is small business doing today? Here we also have (mostly) good news.

According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (note: I do some work with BofA), while small businesses are confident and work hard, they also find their gig pretty darned stressful. How stressful? Survey respondents said that owning a business was four times more stressful than raising a child (41% vs. 9%) and almost a quarter had had nightmares about their business failing. (I can relate, sometimes people call me Steve Stress.)

But despite the pressure, it turns out that our small business brothers and sisters pretty much love what they do. The vast majority, 82%, said they have achieved that ever-elusive “work-life balance,” and even more — 92% — stated that what they love is the flexibility their business affords them. Indeed, according to the Small Business Owner Report, entrepreneurs and their teams seem to be a generally contented, happy lot.

So, if the state of small business is so sound, the question then becomes, where are we headed? Not to sound any more Pollyanna-ish than I already do, but certainly right now the outlook is pretty rosy. Not only do large companies create ever more powerful tools and solutions for us, not only has technology made our jobs easier, more profitable, and more fun, but the zeitgeist generally favors us. People today love small business and know how important it is to shop small. For that, we are very grateful.

And so to our small business customers, friends, and readers, I say to you: Go ahead, hug a small business person today. We deserve it.

Steve Strauss is a senior columnist for USA TODAY. Find him online @SteveStrauss and at MrAllBiz.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY