IT'S the job where you could work 60 hours a week and not get paid for a year.
Many of us dream of starting our own business, being our own boss.
But the brutal reality is that it is bloody hard work.
And too often, small and medium size business (SME) owners are having to dip into their cash reserves to keep their dream alive.
The latest Suncorp SME vs Me Report revealed one in three SMEs use personal finances to manage their cash flow, and a quarter of sole traders and new business owners (in operation less than three years) haven't been paid by their business in the past 12 months.
Only one in five make personal superannuation contributions.
Suncorp CEO Customer Platforms, Gary Dransfield, said while business owners were satisfied with their performance many were overlooking their personal wellbeing to achieve business success.
"Despite more than half of SMEs admitting it's important to keep personal and business finances separate, our findings highlight many SMEs prioritise their business over their personal wealth and wellbeing," Mr Dransfield said.
"More than two thirds of owners have experienced personal challenges including fatigue, financial stress, loss of motivation or relationship strain because of work-related matters."
But despite the personal sacrifices, the Suncorp SME vs Me Report found businesses were generally satisfied and understood managing a business required a long-term view.
"Business owners aren't motivated by instant gratification or quick success.
"It takes at least three years for a business owner to feel confident and satisfied about their business's profit generation and outlook.
"Similarly, while many new businesses don't expect to meet their 12 month goals (84 per cent), its pleasing to see one third are confident in reaching their five-year goals."
Technology tools key to small business success
Technology and digital tools were revealed as key ingredients to business capabilities.
Confidence levels were higher amongst enterprises with social media, a mobile app or search engine optimisation (SEO).
"As technology and digital capabilities continue to enhance and evolve, so do the opportunities for business.
"We found businesses that use online or digital tools are more confident in reaching their medium-term business goals.
"Interestingly, nearly half of SMEs with 10+ year tenures don't use any online or digital tools within their business which could potentially explain why business confidence and expectations of profit generation drop after the 10-year mark."
Being their own boss was revealed as the key motivation for starting a business, followed by passion and work-life balance.
"Generally, business owners were likely to be more satisfied with their work-life balance - despite a fifth working a 60+ hour work week - when they found time to look after their health, ensured work didn't intrude on their personal life and completed their work within normal hours.
"These insights reinforce the need for small businesses to make time to prioritise their wellbeing and life outside their business.
"Time is so valuable to small business owners, yet it's the one thing they rarely have enough off.
There are many solutions available- digital software programs, business dashboards, business advisors, accountants - which can remove operational complexities and alleviate some time pressures."