Are you ready to work? If you had any doubt about how much business owners work, the Staples survey of small business released earlier this month provides some evidence.

Ninety-eight percent of U.S. small-business owners and managers are working during their time off–including nights, weekends and vacations–and nearly 54 percent expect to work even harder in 2008.

The survey done for Staples is based on an internet poll of more than 300 small businesses with no more than 20 employees or, perhaps, 300 people pretending to be businesses with no more than 20 employees (after all, how can an internet poll really tell?).

Other interesting results include:

  • The car remains a favorite place to work, with 72 percent saying they make business calls while driving and nearly 40 percent saying they get their best ideas behind the wheel.
  • Slightly more than 38 percent cannot remember the last time they took a vacation.
  • If given a choice, nearly 52 percent said they would accept comparable business results in 2008 if they could have twice as much free time, while 48 percent said they would work even more hours if they could double their company’s sales.
  • More than 84 percent said they have not yet incorporated “new media” (blogs, podcasts, virtual meeting software or services) into their business activities.
  • Fifty-two percent make New Year’s resolutions for their business. Of those, 58 percent said they resolve to increase business, while only 21 percent said they want more time off. Thirty-five percent said they want to increase profits/eliminate debt.

I didn’t like the way Staples led with what it was calling “sleepworking,” as explained here:

According to the 2nd Annual Staples National Small-Business Survey, more than half of small-business professionals said that work has actually become part of their dreams. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said that they “sleepwork” (i.e. dream about work), and nearly 70 percent of those “sleepworkers” report they wake up and put their “work dreams” to action.

I say that’s just silly. We get involved with our work; we like our work some days and hate it others, and dreaming is part of life, not just work. The idea of calling dreaming work just doesn’t make it. If you’re interested, I posted on that theme on Small Business Trends, and there is a lively set of comments attached to that post.

But enough of that. Here’s some more interesting data:

The results revealed organization and teamwork are the top factors why owners and managers are working so many hours. Nearly 70 percent admitted they do not have a written business plan. Almost three-quarters consider themselves organized, but only 33 percent said they complete the tasks on their “to-do” list each day. Slightly more than two-thirds said they feel constantly challenged by not having enough time to get work done and nearly 44 percent said customer fulfillment takes up the majority of their time while at work.

When asked to compare their businesses to a track and field event at the Olympics, a mere 14 percent said their business operates like a relay race, with everybody working in tandem toward the same goal, whereas 26 percent think of business operations as a 100-meter dash, always sprinting and trying to do everything quickly.

Hmmm … marathon, anyone?

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.