The traditional concept of the "Achievement" has long been associated with attaining economic success and wealth. However, in the face of mounting inflation rates and widespread consumer debt, the pursuit of wealth seems more challenging than ever. As a result, people, particularly small-business owners, are redefining their notions of success.
A recent survey conducted by GoDaddy sought to understand how over 1,000 small-business owners in define success. Surprisingly, 54% of respondents described it as "feeling happy in life," while 49% emphasized the importance of "freedom to follow my passions."
Although 56% still acknowledged wealth as a motivator, aspiring to achieve a comfortable lifestyle, approximately three-quarters of the respondents admitted that their definition of success had evolved since childhood. Notably, owning a home, traditionally considered a symbol of success, ranked as the fourth-most popular answer at 45%.
Fara Howard, Chief Marketing Officer of GoDaddy, explained, "The definition ofsuccess is changing, according to small-business owners." Economic conditions have made homeownership less attainable, especially for Gen Z members. Additionally, the impact of the pandemic and the Great Resignation has led many individuals to value independence, flexibility, and personal fulfillment by being their own boss.
Small-business owners are often regarded as a litmus test for the American Dream, as entrepreneurship is seen as an avenue to climb the socioeconomic ladder. Moreover, a significant portion of today's small-business owners belongs to the millennial and Gen Z generations, which have been increasingly vocal about living life on their own terms.
According to recent survey data from Apartment List, nearly a quarter (24.7%) of millennials plan to rent indefinitely due to the prohibitively expensive cost of homeownership. This figure has doubled since 2010, when it stood at 13%.
Emerging trends like "quiet quitting" and "the big quit" have emboldened Americans to demand more control over their professional lives. They advocate for flexible work arrangements and prioritize leisure time. These shifts reflect a desire to redefine success beyond traditional metrics.
Despite the evolving definitions of the American Dream, survey respondents identified barriers such as limited access to technology, education, and affordable healthcare. However, 62% expressed strong confidence in their ability to achieve their goals within their lifetimes.
Fara Howard remarked, "American small-business owners are thinking beyond revenue and sales growth when they consider what the American Dream means to them." Today, it revolves more around a sense of belonging, freedom, happiness, and work-life balance.
As the landscape of aspirations continues to transform, the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment is becoming increasingly central to the reimagined American Dream. Small-business owners and individuals across the country are seeking alternative paths to success, emphasizing the importance of well-being, autonomy, and a fulfilling lifestyle.