The WordPress.com design team (and friends) recently conducted extensive user research around small business owners and their experiences, as you may have already read elsewhere on this blog.

The team spoke to 34 entrepreneurs, gaining insight into the stresses and joys of their day-to-day lives, with the goal of learning how we, as Automattic, can help them succeed.

Upon dissecting this in-depth report, we were posed with one simple question:

What in the report challenged your assumptions about small business owners?

For me, it was this particular takeaway that emerged from a segment of these business owners whose “side hustle” is rapidly becoming more of a full-time commitment:

Some do not wish to grow their business, or recognize that it will never fully support the lifestyle they want.

Wait – what? They don’t want to grow their business? Isn’t that counterintuitive? 🤔

Having never run my own business, I naturally assumed that the goal of most, if not all, of these folks would be to expand, making more revenue and becoming more “successful” – whatever their particular benchmark for success was.

However, these folks are extremely conscious of managing growth and trying to keep up a healthy work/life balance. All of the business owners polled expressed feelings of being overwhelmed with both the demands of their business and the unknown – as well as a fear that, with rapid growth, their product/service’s quality could easily slip.

“I have four clients. That’s all I can handle, really. If I take on more than that, time becomes too much of a factor. Things get spread too thin.”

Studies like these are necessary and important, as they can challenge our assumptions and give us a greater understanding of the real people using our software.

Research, however, is just the beginning – it’s what we do with it that really counts, both for us as a company and our customers.

Posted by Gareth Allison