SCORE

Are you braver than the average American? According to a new survey by insurance company Hiscox, the average small business owner is 17 percent more courageous than the general population. Even the fallout from the Great Recession hasn’t dampened entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm: Twice as many small business owners as non-business owners feel “very confident” about the strength of the economy in the next six months (21 percent vs. 10 percent).

Entrepreneurs polled by The American Courage Index (ACI) are demonstrating their courage and confidence with high hopes for the rest of 2015. Fifteen percent expect so much growth in the last quarter of the year they’re planning to borrow money to expand their businesses, and 14 percent plan to hire more employees in the coming quarter.

How are small business owners expanding their companies? Fourteen percent of respondents introduced a new product line in the past year, and 15 percent expect their companies to make a move into a new market in the coming year. Even more courageous, 10 percent plan to expand into international markets.

Some specific demographics are feeling more courageous than others. For example, Millennials (ages 18-34) are more likely to be taking action to grow their businesses. Almost one in three Millennials report having purchased or launched another business in the past year, compared to 13 percent of those over 55. In addition, entrepreneurs in the Western US showed the highest business-related courage and the greatest optimism about the economy—more than twice as much as entrepreneurs in the New England region.

However, when it comes to business, courage doesn’t mean foolhardiness. The small business owners surveyed turned out to be financially savvy and focused on smart growth rather than taking unnecessary risks to grow their companies. For instance, in the next quarter, more than one-third of respondents plan to take steps to pay down debt. About one-fourth plan to increase savings, while 20 percent say they will cut overall spending.

As fall approaches, are you feeling courageous and confident? I sure am. The economy is recovering, Americans are spending, and now is the time to take action to move your business forward. Create a plan for growing your business wisely—but don’t let fear hold you back from taking calculated risks and seizing opportunities.

Hiscox has developed a self-assessment tool you can use to gauge your entrepreneurial courage. Visit EncourageCourage.com to find out your courage score. If you need some help getting your courage up, visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today. SCORE mentors can help you make smart decisions, plan for growth and—most of all—shore up your confidence by acting as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.