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Entrepreneurship is a gutsy career path that takes determination, hard work, and confidence. It comes with significant risk and a small chance of success. One key to success is knowing the facts before you dive in, and statistics are a great way to understand what you’re diving into. 

People turn to entrepreneurship because 29% want to be their own boss. However, about 20% businesses fail within the first year if there’s no market for their product or service. To be a successful entrepreneur, 38% said that self-discipline is the key and 37% said people and communication skills.

In this article, we’ll give you more fascinating statistics about entrepreneurship and small businesses. You’ll learn more about the factors that lead to entrepreneurial success as well as the common reasons why small businesses fail. 

General Small Business and Entrepreneurship Statistics

Why Businesses Fail

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Guidant Financial, about 20% of businesses fail within the first year, and 50% fail within the first five years. The most common reason businesses fail is that there’s no market for their product or service (42%).

Capital or cash flow to sustain the business (29%) comes in second, while poor teamwork and communication (23%) ranks third on the list. 

Therefore, if you wish to stand out amongst the crowd, make sure you offer a product or service that people need, understand your finances, and create an environment of teamwork and camaraderie. 

Reasons Why People Become Entrepreneurs

There are many reasons why someone would want to start their own business. According to Guidant Financial, about 29% of entrepreneurs say they chose this path because they wanted to be their own boss. This is constantly the number one reason why entrepreneurs start their businesses. 

The second most popular reason entrepreneurs start their businesses (about 17%) is that they are dissatisfied with corporate America. And a third reason is to pursue their passions (16%).

Top Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship comes with a unique set of challenges that normal employees don’t necessarily need to think about. According to Guidant Financial, the top three (excluding COVID) are insufficient capital or cash flow (23%), recruiting employees (19%), and marketing (15%). 

Biggest Factors for Success

There are many factors involved when a small business becomes successful. According to National Business Capital and Services (NBCS), about 38% of entrepreneurs said that self-discipline was the key to their success. Entrepreneurs need to stick to their priorities, avoid distractions, and always aim for their goals, no matter what obstacles they face. 

The next biggest factors for success were communication skills and passion, and drive. 

Interestingly enough, the top factor of success for female entrepreneurs was people and communication skills (37%). However, self-discipline was their number two reason for success (34%), with money management skills coming up in third. 

Entrepreneur Demographics

Typical Age Range of an American Entrepreneur

There’s no age requirement when you decide to start a business.

Anyone from 18 to 80 with an idea and determination can be an entrepreneur. Although business owners come in all ages, according to NBCS, 35% of entrepreneurs and small business owners are in the 50-59 age bracket, followed by 40-49-year-olds. In fact, about 60% of people who start small businesses are between the ages of 40-60. 

Inclusive Entrepreneurship

America’s business owners are more diverse than ever. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 17.7% of all employer firms were minority-owned: 

  • 5.6% Hispanic 
  • 2.2% African American 
  • 9.7% Asian 
  • 0.4% Native American
  • 0.1% Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

What’s more, as of 2017, one in six business owners (17%) were immigrants. 

Female Entrepreneurship

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 252 million female entrepreneurs in the world. Even though more and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, according to Guidant Financial, currently, only 27% of small business owners in the United States are women. 

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, about 71% of these women start a business to make a difference. Only 63% of men start a business for the same reason. Moreover, 65% of women entrepreneurs choose this path to make a high income as opposed to 73% of men.

The third most popular reason why women become entrepreneurs is to earn a living because jobs are scarce (45%). 

Education 

College degrees aren’t as important to entrepreneurs as regular employees. According to Guidant Financial, about 30% of entrepreneurs only finish high school, 31% have an associate degree, 17% have a bachelor’s degree, 18% obtained a master’s degree, and 4% have a PhD.

Formal education can help many career paths but doesn’t seem to be very important for entrepreneurship. 

Entrepreneurship in the United States

Number of Entrepreneurs in the United States

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S., which is about 16% of the adult workforce. However, about 55% of adults have started a business at some point in their lives, and 26% have started two or more businesses. 

In general, entrepreneurship is viewed positively in America, with 63% of Americans believing that it’s a good career choice. 

According to Guidant Financial, the five top industries to see new small businesses in the United States are Food and Restaurant (12%), Retail (11%), Business Services (11%), Health Beauty and Fitness (9%), and Residential and Commercial Services (7%). 

Since these industries are the most popular, they’re also the most competitive. However, you’re more likely to get financial backing and see success because these industries are in high demand. 

The Economics of American Small Business

According to the SBA, there are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S. and only 20,139 large businesses, which means small businesses account for 99.9% of all the businesses in the country.

They’re the lifeblood of the American dream, making up 50% of the economy. From 2000-2019, small businesses created 10.5 million net new jobs while large enterprises only created 5.6 million. Small businesses make up 65.1% of all new jobs created and employ 47.1% of all private-sector employees. 

Financial Aspects of Entrepreneurship

How Are Small Businesses Financed? 

There are many ways that a business can get financed. According to Guidant Financial, the most popular method in the U.S. (37%) is cash. About 13% of entrepreneurs used rollovers as business startups (ROBS) to finance their business.

After that, entrepreneurs either relied on their friends and family (10%), used unsecured loans (9%), or used a U.S. Small Business Administration loan to start their business. 

How Many Businesses Are Profitable? 

It’s one thing to start a business; it’s another to make it profitable. According to NBCS, Only 40% of small businesses yield a profit. About 30% of businesses break even while the final 30% lose money.

This fact should highlight the importance of financial management when starting up a new business. 

The Average Income of an Entrepreneur

Though many entrepreneurs do see some financial success, many of them rarely become millionaires or billionaires.

According to the SBA, the median income for self-employed owners of incorporated small businesses is $51,816 per year, while the median income for owners of unincorporated businesses is $26,084. Keep in mind that many entrepreneurs work side gigs or are not fully self-employed, which may skew this data. 

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneurship is a difficult path that few succeed on. This career isn’t for the faint of heart. However, the rewards are innumerable, and those who succeed in creating a business are happier, more confident, and free. 

Hopefully, these statistics gave you some insight into the many aspects and challenges of entrepreneurship. As told through the data, anyone can succeed in business if they have enough heart, planning, and dedication.

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