Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Gergana Velkova


Small businesses in the United States have a high failure rate, with 50% failing within 5 years. Small businesses also account for 99.7% of U.S. firms and provide 48.0% of employees in the private sector, or 57 million out of 118 million employees. From 1992 to 2013, small firms were responsible for 63% of new jobs generated. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore the skills small business owners (SBOs) used to achieve sustainability beyond 5 years in a purposefully selected area of Central Florida. The conceptual framework of human capital theory served to focus this case study on the exploration of skills SBOs used to succeed. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 3 small businesses in the mortgage industry had achieved sustainability beyond 5 years. Data were collected via semistructured interviews conducted in person and via Skype. Interview data were analyzed through inductive coding of phrases and words, and secondary data were collected from participants' company documents, such as lead sheets and goal boards. The findings revealed continuing education and training helped SBOs to increase their skills, communication and community networking allowed SBOs to build relationships, and goal setting and creating plans increased SBOs' business success. The results may contribute to social change because new SBOs can use the data to improve their skills for increased job creation and business, which creates economic stimulation.