More than three fourths of people working for others would strike out on their own if they could, says a recent survey by Aflac, and the numbers following to that urge may be increasing.

The survey reveals that 77% of adults working for others full- or part-time would like to leave their current position to become an independent entrepreneur, says Aflac's 2011 WorkForces Report.

A number of reasons are given for the desire to work independently, including the ability to set one's own hours, to have more time for family and friends, to avoid office politics and to eliminate a daily commute.

"This survey reaffirms that many Americans lack fulfillment and passion for their jobs, and struggle with work/life balance," says Tom Giddens, senior vice president, director of U.S. Sales at Aflac.

But even for those who do not struggle with their jobs, other factors have come into play to make starting a business an attractive option, says Aaron W. Smith, a financial planner and president of A.W. Smith Financial Group Inc. in Glen Allen, Va., who has helped several clients start their own firms.

Some clients have come to him after being laid off or downsized, or after having pension benefits cut. Others want to keep working after traditional retirement because physically and mentally they want more challenges.

The number of small business owners declined between 2007 and 2008, as the market took a big hit, according to the latest numbers the Small Business Administration has available. There were 6,031,344 in 2007 but it went down to 5,911,663 by the end of 2008.

Although only based on anecdotal experience, Smith feels that number is starting to rebound and will continue to increase. Those who are a little more hesitant may go with a franchise business.

"People look at starting their own business with optimism and some anxiety," Smith says, "and I tell them it will not be easy. Those who are willing to take advice surround themselves with knowledgeable people and stay away from the naysayers will be the ones who will succeed. I am an independent businessman, so I can tell them my experiences."

Because new small businesses are based on service industries and technology, people can start making a profit in months rather than the years it took when more people were setting up a new manufacturing business.

"People today have strong skill sets they developed working for others and relationships they have established that they can call on when they start their own businesses," Smith says.

-Karen DeMasters