In the US, as national celebration the Fourth of July is approaching, solution providers with designs on SMBs need to recognise that independence in America today can be about running a small, IT-driven business.
And these successful entrepreneurs are getting younger and more tech savvy every year.
A new study by US small-business online directory provider Manta found encouraging optimism among small business owners, particularly among the so-called millennials, along with a strong desire to use business technology to help them achieve their goals and maintain their independence.
That trend means will require a shift in focus for many IT providers, who now need to address the desires and concerns of a younger, motivated audience of IT buyers across a broad swathe of SMB types looking to improve efficiency and connectivity at work.
Could this also be true in the UK or Europe?
"Though a challenging undertaking, there are invaluable rewards that come with being an entrepreneur," said Manta CEO John Swanciger. "Millennials are demonstrating they're a new driving force behind the small business community.
"It's no longer assumed that recent graduates will enter the traditional workforce. Companies will have to adjust as millennials become a bigger force in the small business space," Swanciger said.
According to Manta's survey of 1,105 small business owners, the technology deemed most important to the business was its internet connection, with 39 per cent of respondents saying they need to stay connected and work from anywhere. Roughly a third (32 per cent) ranked mobility as a top priority -- followed by email at 18 per cent and organisational applications.
Those findings highlighted an interesting paradox for partners approaching this audience; in order to flex the independence self-employment affords them, this new breed of SMB entrepreneur wants to be digitally lashed to the business as much as possible.
In fact, 40 per cent of small business owners said having constant access to business files and apps - even while on holiday - actually reduced the stress of business ownership by assuring them that things are running smoothly while they're away.
And they do appear to be running well, indeed. Some 68 per cent of SMB owners polled said the first half of 2014 has been a success, up 12 per cent from the first half of last year.
A whopping 83 per cent said they're optimistic about the second half of the year. About 30 per cent had just hired new employees in the first half of 2014, up 10 per cent from last year and 35 per cent planned to hire more help before year's end.
The younger the business owner, the more optimistic, as well. More than three quarters (76 per cent) of millennials polled deemed the first half of 2014 a success, higher than any other generation.
Some 90 per cent said prospects for the rest of the year are even brighter. These 18 to 33-year-old business owners also hired more employees than any other generation and 52 per cent said they'll take on more staff in the second half of this year.
So where can solution providers help in this new drive for independence? A third of business owners surveyed by Manta said the chief obstacle to achieving their SMB business goals was the economy.
That's followed closely by finding new customers (28 per cent) and worrying about money and financial stability (20 per cent).
Clearly the onus is on IT partners to help this young, optimistic and motivated crowd improve business agility and efficiency through judicious application of business technology that focuses on mobility, connectivity and overall business organisation.
These have long been the mantra of the VAR who targets business outcomes for its clients. These message now needs to be fine-tuned for a younger, more nimble class of tech decision maker, the poll suggested.
"The fluctuating economy brings its share of challenges to my company's growth," said Kiel Krausen, owner of start-up multimedia company Pitts Media in Birmingham, Alabama. "Because of this challenge, it's all the more important to turn to technology tools."
Chris Gonsalves is vice president of content services at the 2112 Group
For more US-focused channel coverage see www.channelnomics.com
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