When it comes to technologies that allow small business owners to maintain their independence, having an Internet connection ranked most important (39 percent), allowing small business owners to stay connected and work from anywhere, according to a report from small business service directory and search engine Manta.
Just under one-third (32 percent) of small business owners reported having a mobile phone as most important, followed by email (18 percent) and organizational applications (3 percent).
The research, which surveyed 1,105 members of Manta’s small business community, found that 68 percent of small business owners reported the first half of 2014 to be a successful period for their business, up 12 percent from this time last year.
Moreover, an impressive majority (83 percent) of small business owners reported they are optimistic about business prospects looking ahead to the second half of the year.
While technology proves to be a critical factor to independence, staying connected while on vacation is equally crucial–40 percent of small business owners say having access to business files and apps while on vacation reduces stress because they know everything is still running smoothly while they’re away.
As the nation heads for the July 4th holiday weekend, the survey also asked small business owners about the value of being an independent proprietor.
More than one-half (52 percent) of owners reported independence and the ability to control their own destiny as the top reward of being an independent entrepreneur, outranking being their own boss (23 percent), increased confidence (7 percent) and monetary benefits (4 percent).
In addition, 59 percent said pursuing their passions and interest in their work brings them more personal freedom than not having a boss (19 percent) or setting their own schedule (17 percent).
Nearly three in four (72 percent) entrepreneurs revealed having their own company brings more freedom and independence than working for someone else–only 21 percent feel they have more responsibility, and less independence, as an entrepreneur.
"Though a challenging undertaking, there are invaluable rewards that come with being an entrepreneur. Millennials are demonstrating they’re a new driving force behind the small business community," John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, said in a statement. "It’s no longer assumed that recent graduates will enter the traditional workforce. Companies will have to adjust as Millennials become a bigger force in the small business space."
Though still cautious about hiring, the survey revealed 30 percent of SBOs made hires during the first half of 2014, up 10 percent from last year and 35 percent plan to make new hires during the remainder of the year.
From a small business perspective, the economy ranked as the No. 1 barrier to achieving independence (29 percent), trumping finding new customers (28 percent), and worrying about money and the financial stability of business (20 percent).
Based on a subset of the overall survey data, 76 percent of Millennials reported having a successful first half of 2014, which was higher than any other generation, indicating they are becoming a growing force in the small business community.
Moreover, Millennials made more hires this year (44 percent) than any other generation and expect to make the most hires (52 percent) during the next six months.