37% no longer think owning a car or home is part of the American Dream

NEW YORK — The “American Dream” isn’t dead, but according to a third of small business owners (31%), it needs to change. In a new survey of 1,000 small business owners, many think certain aspects of the traditional American Dream are a part of the past — such as owning a car and a home (37%) and believing in the free market economy (31%).

Instead, respondents are now focusing on helping their businesses thrive as part of their “new” American dream – which 71 percent believe is achievable through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work.

The American Dream is evolving

Results from the survey, commissioned by Xero, a global small business platform, and conducted by OnePoll, also find that nearly two in three (65%) believe they’re currently living the American dream. Meanwhile, 72 percent think there’s a difference between having a “personal” American dream and a dream for their business.

Although 38 percent of respondents say running their own businesses is part of their personal American dream, nearly as many agree that being self-made (32%) and providing for their families (30%) is also part of their life plans. However, achieving their dreams takes time, with 46 percent of business owners saying they have a four-to-five-year plan to reach their personal goals.

When asked what they would aim to accomplish first, 23 percent want to ensure they’re providing for their own future, 16 percent want to push for a good cause, and 14 percent want to put their family’s future first.

“Small businesses are the engine of the U.S. economy and it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a shift in how business owners perceive the American dream,” says Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager at Xero, in a statement. “Business owners are redefining what it means to be a self-made entrepreneur, and their aspirations for their business are closely tied to their new vision of the American dream. We’ve come to find that oftentimes, the American dream is inclusive of both professional and personal aspirations, and each side of the coin very distinctly influences the other.”

Small business goals

The vast majority of business owners (86%) say their businesses are an important part of their larger American dream. Three in five hope to expand their stores into a chain. More than a third (36%) say they currently own both a physical and online store, while 25 percent only have a physical store and 20 percent strictly do business online.

Respondents also shared the financial goals they have set for themselves and their businesses — which include giving their employees health and retirement benefits (40%), having enough money to spend freely (36%), and paying their employees more (34%). Five in six people believe being “financially comfortable” is their American dream.

“Bringing the two separate worlds — both professional and personal — of a business owner together and connecting the different elements of business management by using technology can help owners be in control of their goals,” Richmond adds. “It can also help them focus on the passion that got them into business in the first place.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. The ‘American Dream’ was always a trap and a dangled carrot. The rich never had to dream to get what they wanted and never sacrificed to keep it, while the poor followed the carrot (underpaid job) to get something akin to a dream (house or education), that they really could not afford, and because of that dream, that they never really own; they sacrifice the rest of their ‘dreams’ (music, art, travel, education, family) in order to keep it, all the while being in debt until they die. What a dream.. or a nightmare. I’m glad more people are reimagining what our purpose is and how to attain it. Disconnect and turn away from all man made delusions.. politics, religion and societal pressures to conform.

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