This study explores the relationship between strain, performance, and survival of small-scale business owners. 201 business owners were observed across a 10 years period. We used a control theoretical framework and argued that strain (psychosomatic complaints, susceptibility to stress) activates strategies that have positive effects on long-term survival and performance. Our research showed that psychosomatic complaints have positive effects on survival. Moreover, psychosomatic complaints were not related to growth but related to dissatisfaction in cross sectional analyses. Finally, low satisfaction was affecting susceptibility to stress. We conclude that while entrepreneurs may try to reduce stress reactions, owners need to proactively strive for desired goals at the same time.