Date of Conferral



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




John R. Bryan


About 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years of operation, lacking access to capital being a contributing factor. The high failure rate is of great concern to the business owners; their livelihood and employees are jeopardized. Through the pecking order theory lens, the purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore strategies small business owners use to access capital to sustain the business past the first five years. Eight small business owners who successfully operated for more than five years in Georgia and Illinois participated in the semistructured interviews. Through thematic data analysis, four themes were identified: internal financing most commonly used, external funding not readily accessible in earlier years, external financing used at later and critical stages of business, and minimizing business operational costs and expenses. A recommendation is for small business owners, fund providers, and the government to better understand some issues affecting small businesses' survival and implement policies that will lead to a better ecosystem that supports small business sustainability. The implications for positive social change include the potential for small business owners to apply financial strategies for business stainability, leading to greater prosperity in the local, state, and national economies.