An Entrepreneurial Generation of 18- to 34-Year-Olds Wants to Start Companies When Economy Rebounds, According to Poll From The Kauffman Foundation

Millennials see entrepreneurship as path to success, but are delaying because of the economy

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Nov. 10, 2011 — In a beleaguered economy, the country needs entrepreneurs – the nation’s job creators. Fortunately, a recent poll shows that the so-called millennial generation – those ages 18-34 – are an entrepreneurial bunch. A few key barriers are holding them back, especially the economy.

The nationwide cell phone and landline survey, conducted by the Young Invincibles in conjunction with Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, polled 872 millennials on their thoughts about the economy and entrepreneurship. With the world getting ready for Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 14-20, hearing what young people think about starting businesses is especially timely.

“This poll reveals a generation that is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, and that is good news for the U.S.,” said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, “Fifty-four percent of the nation’s millennials either want to start a business or already have started one. They recognize that entrepreneurship is the key to reviving the economy.”
An even higher percentage of young people of color – 64 percent of Latinos and 63 percent of African-Americans – expressed a desire to start their own companies. Women, on the other hand, are less likely to want to start their own businesses than men are (44 percent of women vs. 57 percent of men).

Despite millennials’ strong entrepreneurial drive, just 8 percent of them own businesses now, and only 11 percent intend to start businesses within the next year. Thirty-eight percent of the potential young entrepreneurs say they have delayed starting a business because of the economy.

“An astounding number of young people want to start a business one day,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and Executive Director of Young Invincibles. “And they overwhelmingly support action on the part of their leaders to remove barriers to these dreams.”

The poll points out specific barriers to entrepreneurship, including the inability to access capital needed to get a business going, lack of knowledge needed to run a small business, concerns with overcoming current debt burdens, and few mentors from whom they can learn. In fact, 65 percent of young people think that making it easier to start a business should be a priority for Congress, with 41 percent saying it should be a top priority. Eighty-three percent of millennials believe that Congress should, at a minimum, increase the availability of startup loans.

Even more respondents – 92 percent – support increased access to the education and training needed to run a small business as a way to encourage people to become entrepreneurs, and 81 percent of the young people surveyed support student loan relief for millennials who start companies.