By Lauren Linhard  –

The idea of working for yourself may sound glamorous, but there needs to be something stronger behind the decision than that to make it stick, said Lara Custer, owner of Barrevolution in Timonium, MD.

There has to be a stronger motivation, more personal “whys,” that push you to work 60-hour weeks, build a responsible staff, develop a digital presence and sink everything you have into a dream, she said.

For Custer, it was her personal mission to empower women to become the best versions of themselves which led to the opening of Barrevolution fitness studio in July 2015.

yelpAnd it looks like Custer’s efforts, along with those of other small business owners, will pay off in 2016. According to the first Yelp Small Business Pulse Survey, 85 percent of American small business owners expect revenue to grow this year, estimating an increase of 26 percent.

Jenn Jensen, owner of Crop Salon in Monkton, MD, said her small-town salon has been growing at 20 percent each month since opening in August 2015, and she anticipates the trend to continue through 2016.

“I have always dreamed of having my own salon,” said Jensen, who also owns a small pig farm. “I ran the salon and did all the clients for the first two months before I found my amazing employees. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week.”

Jensen rocking at her salon solo before hiring her current staff. Photo by Beverly Funkhouser.

But it’s that special personal touch and dedication that keeps customers coming back. A large part of that is digital outreach through social media, said Jensen, adding that she uses Facebook and Instagram to show off new styles and skills available.

Custer also loves using Facebook to reach her clients, explaining that it’s where her customers “hang out” and interact outside of class. She anticipates seeing her revenue double this year.

In fact, 85 percent of small business owners believe that digital marketing has helped grow customer base, with 79 percent saying digital tools allow a more personal touch and address more individual needs.

To break it down, 91% of small businesses use digital marketing tools such as social media platforms (75 percent), consumer review platforms (48 percent) and search engine advertising (48 percent).

Custer, center, and her staff of Barre-tenders.

But it’s not just the monetary markers and Facebook likes that indicate a new business is successful, but the chance to try out new ideas and continue specialty education.

Jensen can’t wait to get her staff involved in more hair shows and workshops, while Custer is planning to start a new yoga program and offer a fitness retreat this year.

“A true entrepreneur needs to be competitive, with a drive to be the best of the best in their field,” Custer said. “To use a quote I love, ‘I don’t need a vacation from my job.’ I love my job, my mission, my team and my clients.”