Running your own business is no mean feat. No matter where in the world you follow your dreams or ply your trade, the story of Small & Medium Businesses is of extreme passion, dedication, hard work and sacrifice. And on a broad scale the hard work is paying off – in major economies since 2010, Small & Medium Businesses have created 66% of new jobs. But for the individual business owners who are creating these jobs, it can often feel like no-one is listening to their concerns.

Sage recently polled well over a thousand of their Small & Medium Business customers – in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain and South Africa – and found that two thirds have used personal savings or re-mortgaged their homes to fund their business. What’s more, these Small & Medium Businesses are putting in serious graft to keep things moving forward, with 1 in 5 working 70 hours a week and half working weekends or forgoing holidays.

And they are optimistic. As a result of the sacrifices they are making, two-thirds of Small & Medium Businesses told Sage they plan to hire up to five employees over next two years.  South Africa topped the optimism table, with 10% saying they’ll hire as many 20 employees in two years. That means these businesses, collectively, will generate massive future employment opportunities that will power their economies forward.

These risk takers care too – they give back.  We found that Small & Medium Businesses owners are philanthropic by nature, with 85% personally donating to charities and non-profit organisations. Half would like to do more to support their local community, and 40% encourage their employees to volunteer. These heroic business owners think beyond their business – they’re doing their bit to inspire and give back to their community.