American business owners say this is the hardest thing they had to learn as entrepreneurs

According to a survey by OnePoll on behalf of Kajabi, 41% of business owners find it hardest to ask for help when first starting their business. Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash

Four in five American entrepreneurs say if you’re not passionate about what you do — your business will fail, according to new research.

The study asked 1,000 American entrepreneurs and business owners about the biggest lessons they’ve learned from starting a business — especially during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 has naturally been a big challenge for the majority of small business owners, the average respondent said they’ve had seven “aha moments” on how to further improve.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Kajabi — an all-in-one knowledge commerce platform — found that despite the challenges of COVID-19, 78% of respondents have used lockdown as an opportunity to further plan how to grow their business once things return to normal.

Another finding revealed that starting a business really does take time. On average, respondents have been working on their business concepts for six years. They noted it took them four years to start turning real profits and it took them five years for them to start feeling like a real success.

For over half of those surveyed, their biggest motivation when starting their business was seeing a need in their community that wasn’t being filled.

Another 52% wanted to be their own boss and 33% wanted the opportunity to make money independently.

The average respondents also saved an average of $2,509.27 before they even started their business — and they lost an average of $935.33 within their first year of operations.

Men actually lost more money than women within their first year — reporting an average of $992.77 in losses compared to $880.29.

Most businesses have come a long way since their initial start, as 71% of respondents said their business is drastically different today than it was when they first started it.

“In the last several months alone, we’ve seen countless people who experienced layoffs or furloughs due to COVID-19 capitalize on the strong demand for online learning by packaging up their unique expertise as an online business offering,” said Kenny Rueter, CEO and Co-Founder of Kajabi. “By monetizing their existing knowledge, many of these users can now sustain their financial obligations and day-to-day needs during such uncertain times. They’re discovering that by launching digital products which typically carry lower overheads, they’re becoming profitable at faster rates than traditional business.”

The hardest thing for business owners surprisingly wasn’t raising the money to start, it was actually learning to ask for help (41%), with their start-up funds closely behind (40%).

Another 36% said they struggled to learn how to embrace change, 34% had a hard time finding the time to relax, and 16% struggled to accept criticism.

One challenge that respondents are struggling with in particular is how to improve their online presence.

Sixty-seven percent of business owners polled are also struggling to improve their online presence, but they don’t know where to go for help.

“There is so much noise in the entrepreneurial corner of the internet,” said Rueter. “Beginners get pulled in so many directions and get stuck trying to master too many skills at once. Even seasoned business owners get bogged down by second-guessing and shiny objects.”

“Resources like Kajabi in particular can eliminate the clutter by providing user-friendly tools that actually move the needle in your business. With templates and blueprints for everything — websites, emails, products, landing pages, funnels, you name it — Kajabi users are never starting from a blank slate.”

Despite these initial struggles, business owners remain motivated by continuing to meet needs in their community (53%) and being passionate about their work (43%).


  1. I saw a need that wasn’t being met in my community — 56%
  2. I wanted to be my own boss — 52%
  3. I’m passionate about the work/product — 51%
  4. I wanted to make money independently — 33%


  1. Asking for help — 41%
  2. Raising start-up funds — 40%
  3. Learning to embrace change — 36%
  4. Taking time to relax — 34%
  5. Spending time away from family — 32%
  6. Hiring staff — 26%
  7. Designing a website — 25%
  8. Firing staff — 19%
  9. Accepting criticism — 16%
  10. Establishing a social media presence — 11%


  1. I saw a need that wasn’t being met in my community — 53%
  2. I wanted to be my own boss — 49%
  3. I wanted to make money independently — 46%
  4. I’m passionate about the work/product — 43%
  5. I’ve become a staple in the community — 28%
  6. I enjoy serving the members of my community — 18%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<
NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.




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SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.

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