It’s no secret that there are many perks of being the boss — like more freedom, higher pay, and better benefits. In fact, one study found that 24 million Americans want to either fire their boss or work for themselves.1 Even with greater economic uncertainty due to COVID-19, there’s been an increase in entrepreneurial activity.

Through our own survey, which assessed 1,500 respondents, we discovered exactly what people say they are willing to give up to be their own boss. Read on to find out what key work benefits Americans would trade in to work for themselves or skip to our infographic to help you decide if being your own boss is the right career move for you.2

Key Findings

  • 90% of Americans would give up a key work benefit to be their own boss
  • Most Americans would trade yearly bonuses and PTO to be self-employed
  • Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, Americans are still motivated to be their own boss

Most Americans would trade in one or more benefits for autonomy

americans would trade in key benefits to be the boss

When it comes to career goals, most Americans surveyed would give up one or more key work benefits in exchange for the perks of being their own boss. Of those surveyed, we were surprised to discover that 90 percent of respondents admitted they would give up one or more of the following offerings for the ability to work for themselves.

The benefits Americans say they’d trade in include:

  • A yearly bonus
  • Paid time off
  • A competitive salary
  • Weekends off
  • Retirement savings

Although each of these benefits typically tend to be important selling points for employees, we found that most people believe being your own boss is the greatest work perk or benefit.

Yearly bonuses and PTO are the most dispensable benefits

While digging deeper into the survey results we found that yearly bonuses and paid time off are the benefits Americans are most ready to trade in — with 29% of people saying they would give up a yearly bonus and 23% of people saying they would give up paid time off.

Additionally, 20 percent of respondents admitted they would trade in a competitive salary, and 13 percent said they would give up weekends off to be their own boss. On the flip side, we found that retirement savings are the most indispensable benefit. Only 6 percent of respondents claimed that they would give up their retirement savings for more autonomy in their career, proving this to be the most important benefit to Americans.

It’s also worth noting that 9 percent of respondents stated that they would not give up any key work benefits to be their own boss — despite the level of autonomy working for yourself can yield.

Americans continue to turn to entrepreneurship amidst the pandemic


So why are Americans willing to give up important benefits and be their own bosses, even during a time of economic downturn? It seems that the benefits of being your own boss may outweigh many of the benefits that come with a typical nine-to-five job. Perks like greater control in your career and workplace, more flexible hours, open ended career progression, job security, and the ability to retire sooner could be attributed to Americans admitting to dreams of self-employment.

That being said, building and securing your own business is not always an easy task — and not everyone has what it takes to launch or maintain a successful business operation. If you’d describe yourself as hardworking, creative and able to seize the right opportunity, it may be a good time for you to consider entrepreneurship. After all, operating a business poses a variety of risks. That’s why we recommend anyone opening a business protect themselves with general liability insurance.

If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that having hard times or setbacks can create opportunities for a comeback. The U.S Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics shows a recent push toward entrepreneurship. These numbers indicate that weekly business applications that have been filed since the onset of COVID-related shutdowns in early March 2020 have exceeded those submitted over the same period in 2019 by roughly 31 percent.3

COVID-19 has unleashed a wave of innovation and new ideas to combat the challenges we face as a society today, and many people have made career or business pivots to meet our new needs for goods or services born from the crisis.

Of the businesses that have emerged during the pandemic, the industries that have proven to be the most successful are hand sanitizing products, face mask sellers, digital marketing agencies, graphic design firms, app developers, drop shipping, and socially distant fitness and wellness programs.4

With new ideas and companies rising to the challenge to fulfill new demands, it’s no surprise that weekly applications for new businesses continue to be on the rise. Some may argue that there’s no better time to consider being your own boss, even if it means trading in key work benefits.


This survey was conducted for Thimble using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consisted of 1,500 responses. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in November 2020.

This survey reveals American’s desire to be their own boss or be self-employed, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows us that entrepreneurship continues to be desirable and grow as new ideas emerge to meet society’s challenges and changing needs. If you’re considering becoming a business owner, see how Thimble can help you create and maintain a successful business during uncertain times.