In this report, we explore the passion and drive of small business owners, the struggles they face, and why they remain optimistic about the next five years. We found that small business owners across the country remain resilient as they adapt to the changing economic landscape and continue to grow despite challenges.


Square sellers who joined in 2012 increased their annual sales by an average of 3x over the subsequent five-year period. Growing your business does not come easy. Meet Kelly and Cheng, two entrepreneurs who understand that building a successful business—big or small—takes patience, resilience, and a great deal of passion.


Kelly started Elsie Mae’s Canning, a bakery and cannery, that makes pies and jams her grandma’s way. Kelly continues to give back to her community by creating jobs and only using seasonal ingredients from local farms.

There’s never enough time. I don’t understand how we work seven days a week, we’re open on all holidays, and constantly running out of time. But if you believe in what you’re doing and you love it, then it’s all worth it.

– Kelly Deem

portrait of the owner of Tai Chi Jianbing


Cheng opened his pop-up, Tai Chi Jianbing, to bring the taste of his favorite childhood street food to the U.S. Using only the freshest ingredients, he whips up his take on jianbing, the savory Chinese crepe.

It is not possible to hire anyone else, it is too much cost. From the beginning there is no choice, I have to do it by myself.

– Cheng Hu


The data behind the struggle:

of small business owners agree that they face more challenges than five years ago, however,

of small business owners feel confident that they are going to meet their five-year goal.

of small business owners say increased competition from big corporations has motivated them to adapt for the better.

of small business owners say cash flow concerns keep them up at night.

small business owners are not covered by health insurance.

small business owners who work a second job do so for health insurance.

of small business owners do not take a salary.


Nearly a quarter of small business owners choose their location for the local community. The neighborhood charm, personal relationships, and local regulars that often drive an entrepreneur to select a location for their small business unfortunately can’t guarantee access to sufficient funding to continue serving that community. That’s why access to capital is an essential element of any small business’s journey to growth.


94% of small businesses believe access to financing through Square Capital has helped their business contribute to their local economy.

small businesses who believe self-employed or self-made will increase

64% of small businesses go above and beyond to build personal relationships with their customers.


82% of small businesses say that financing through Square Capital has allowed them to keep their business in their existing community.

Heart & Hustle statistics are based on a November 2017 survey of 1,000 U.S. small business owners, conducted by Square Inc, and Square seller payment processing data between 2012 and 2017. Actual results from processing through Square may vary. Square Capital statistics are based on an April 2018 survey of 6,397 respondents who have taken a loan through Square Capital. Square Capital, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Square, Inc., d/b/a Square Capital of California, LLC in FL, GA, MT, and NY. All loans are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank. Member FDIC, located in Salt Lake City, UT.