Business Ownership is Attractive to a Substantial Amount of America’s Young People, Survey Reveals
Study shows youth who know an entrepreneur personally have the strongest interest in starting their own businesses; Global Entrepreneurship Week offers channel for young people to connect with successful business owners
Despite America’s lingering recession, its young people remain enthusiastic about one day becoming entrepreneurs. A Harris Interactive® online poll, conducted on behalf of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, released in conjunction with the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), reveals that 40 percent of youth ages eight to 24 would like to start a business at some future point, or already have done so.
Results from the August 2010 survey of 5,077 young people are consistent with a previous study conducted in 2007.
The new survey shows that interest in starting a business is consistent among tweens (eight- to 12-year-olds – 39 percent), teens (13- to 17-year-olds – 39 percent), and young adults (18- to 24-year-olds – 41 percent). Males (45 percent) are more likely than females (35 percent) to be attracted to business ownership.
Youth who personally know another entrepreneur have the strongest interest in starting their own businesses. Among youth who know an entrepreneur, almost half (46 percent) would like to start, or already have started, businesses, compared to only one-third (31 percent) of the young people who do not know a business owner.
Nearly six in ten tweens (58 percent) and teens (59 percent), and even more young adults (66 percent), know someone who has started a business. Typically, the business owners they know are family members. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, however, 29 percent cited a friend as the business owner they know.
Although young adults most often cited building something for their futures or using their skills and abilities as reasons for starting their own businesses, tweens and teens overwhelmingly say that earning lots of money would be the main impetus for business ownership.
Education also plays a role in young people’s views. Youth who want to start a business, or know someone who has, are more likely than other youth to point to education as a factor both in piquing their interest in entrepreneurship and in preparing them to run their own businesses.
A majority of youth—especially tweens (75 percent)—believe that hard work can make them successful in an entrepreneurial or non-profit venture. Overall, fewer than one-third of youth (30 percent among eight- to 12-year-olds and 26 percent among 13- to 24-year-olds) believe business ownership is more desirable than working for someone else.
Young adults prefer the security of working for someone else more than teens do. Nevertheless, the desire to start a business over other careers has risen slightly for young adults (18 to 21 years of age), from 19 percent in 2007 to 25 percent in 2010. In addition, 16 percent of 18- to 21-year-olds today and in 2007 see starting a non-profit as a much more desirable career option than other career opportunities.
Most youth believe that, if they work hard, they can successfully start their own businesses. In particular, 75 percent of eight- to 12-year-olds agree with this statement, as compared to 62 percent of both 13- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 24-year-olds.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Kauffman Foundation in August 2010, among 5,077 youth ages eight to twenty-four. For eight- to 17-year-olds, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, school location, and parental education were weighted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. For 18- to 24-year-olds, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.