Date of Conferral



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




Janet M. Booker


Small businesses create 50% of all jobs in the United States, but at least 50% of all newly founded small businesses have failed since 2006, and only 1/3 have survived beyond 10 years. Small businesses have a high chance of failure in the first 5 years due to a lack of sustainable strategies. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the strategies small business owners need to sustain their business beyond 5 years in a purposefully chosen county in Michigan. A conceptual framework was constructed based on the stakeholder theory and its derived theories to provide a theoretical background and explore the sustainable business strategies used by the owners. Five small restaurant business owners who sustained their businesses for at least 5 years were purposely sampled. Data were collected via semistructured interviews and member checking was used to ensure the participants concurred with all transcripts; and triangulation was used to analyze a combination of synthesized interview data, reflective interview notes, and business financial documents. Computer software was used to analyze the data and to generate themes with their categories from the data automatically. From the data analysis, 4 themes emerged from the triangulated and analyzed data associated with small restaurant sustainability. The 4 emergent themes were that education enhanced owners' strategies and sustainability, personal traits drove owners to their business success, marketing and seasonal strategies assisted them in strategic planning and brand building, and business growth strategies assisted them in innovation and environmental management. The success of small businesses can generate jobs, stimulate the economy, and increase domestic and government revenue.