The study consisted of a survey of over 400 small business owners coupled with a set of 26 in-depth interviews with "successful" business owners. These are small business owners who told us they were meeting or exceeding their business goals and objectives and self-described their business as "successful".
Few are motivated by or interested in want building a large business and even fewer are solely motivated by financial rewards.
We've long studied how small business owners define and achieve success and this finding fits with our past work.
In 2007 and 2008 we did a series of focus groups with small business owners on this topic. We found that most small business owners aren't motivated by or interested in growing their firms into big businesses.
A variety of other studies have found the same thing. Wealth, Tastes and Entrepreneurial Choice, a 2015 academic study on this topic, is a good example and references a number of related studies.
But despite this research, the vast majority of people believed then and still believe now that most small businesses want to grow and become big businesses.
This belief is driven mostly by the vast amount of media coverage high growth small businesses and their owners get.
But as our 2010 research project showed, high growth entrepreneurs are very different motivationally than traditional small business owners. But because the high growth folks get a lot of press, people tend to think all small business owners are like them.
So just as our 2007-2008 study findings were surprising to most people, so too are these findings (or at least that's the feedback so far).
It's even surprising to a lot of small business owners. Many small business owners tell us they consider themselves an outlier because they aren't interested in growing into a big business. They often are surprised when we tell them this attitude is common.
It also makes them happy to learn their goals for their business and definition of success is shared by most other small business owners.
This is not to say small business owners don't want to grow at all. Nor are we saying small business don't care about making money.
Most do want to grow - 76% of those surveyed and 71% of those interviewed reported having a growth goal - and almost all (over 90%) have explicit financial targets.
But in most cases the growth goal is modest and the financial targets important but secondary to other objectives. See the report for more on this.
We'll have more on this study over the next couple of weeks, including a finding that surprised us so much we didn't believe it at first, still aren't sure about, and plan to study more deeply going forward.
This is the growing role small business coaches and coaching are playing.