New Kauffman Sketchbook Debunks Four Persistent Myths about Entrepreneurship

Some assumptions we make about entrepreneurship don't match credible research findings, and the misconceptions won't go away

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Sept. 16, 2014) — Dane Stangler, Kauffman Foundation vice president of Research & Policy, discusses four persistent myths about entrepreneurship in the latest installment of the Kauffman Sketchbook video series released today by the Kauffman Foundation.

"There are several areas in which I think our research and the research of those we fund has been making headway in, if not disproving, at least pushing back against conventional wisdom or what turn out to be myths," Stangler says in the three-minute animated video.

"Myth-busting Entrepreneurship," notes four commonly held beliefs and attempts to set the record straight.

  • Challenging the notion that small business plays the most important role in growing the economy, Stangler notes that the age of the firm is a more important variable than the size of the firm.  "It's new and young companies that create most jobs and innovations, not necessarily small companies," he says.
  • He cites multiple studies that refute the popular stereotype that most entrepreneurs are 23-year-olds starting tech companies in their local coffee shop or their bedroom.  "By and large," he says, "the 'peak age' for starting a company is in the mid to late 30s, early 40s."
  • Stangler warns against efforts to recreate Silicon Valley in the hopes of creating a hotbed of high-tech startups. "Silicon Valley is a very unique place that's never going to be replicated.  We all need to stop trying to be a Silicon fill-in-the-blank, not just in the U.S., but anywhere around the world," he says.
  • More recently, Stangler and the research team at Kauffman have been examining the role of business incubators to launch early-stage companies. "Most research shows that incubators are not effective at all for actually producing companies," he says.

Stangler concludes by acknowledging the importance of harvesting more research to uncover myths and propose constructive alternatives.

About the Kauffman Sketchbook Video Series
Since the Kauffman Sketchbook series launched in September 2011, the videos featuring the insights of influential thought leaders in the areas of education and entrepreneurship have drawn more than 343,800 viewers to YouTube and kauffman.org. The Sketchbooks, which won a top award from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, have been widely shared on a variety of websites, blogs and social media outlets, as well as at numerous events and conferences.