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Who Doesn’t Start a Business in America? A Look at Pre-Entrepreneurship Leavers

To understand barriers in entrepreneurship, it is useful to gain insight into who wants to, but does not, start a business – and why.

Pre-entrepreneurship leavers are people who have not previously owned a business, have been deeply interested in starting a business within the last five years, and had a specific business idea in mind, but ultimately made a conscious decision not to do so or wait.

This report details some key findings about pre-entrepreneurship leavers drawn from a nationally representative survey of adults in the United States between June and August 2020.

Featured highlights:

  • Pre-entrepreneurship leavers reflect about 6% of the adult population.
  • Many characteristics of pre-entrepreneurship leavers, including reasons for being interested in starting a business and steps taken toward entrepreneurship, were similar regardless of educational status (college degree).
  • The most commonly reported step taken by pre-entrepreneurship leavers is discussing the business idea with a friend, work colleague, or acquaintance. This was reported by half of pre-entrepreneurs. Black, Hispanic, and White women were more likely to report taking this step than their counterpart men.