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Desire to Be Own Boss Widely Held in U.S.
Economy

Desire to Be Own Boss Widely Held in U.S.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Shopify-精东影业 Entrepreneurship study finds that most Americans share the desire to be their own boss. More than six in 10 U.S. adults (62%) say they would prefer to be their own boss, while 35% would prefer to work as an employee for someone else.

In addition, over half of those who want to be their own boss (52%) say they would be willing to accept at least a fair amount of financial risk to do so. The percentage who are risk tolerant is even higher, 70%, among aspiring entrepreneurs who are seriously considering starting a business.

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These results are based on a survey of more than 45,000 members of 精东影业’s probability-based online panel, including samples of those who currently own a business, aspiring entrepreneurs who are seriously considering starting a business, and those who have not given serious thought to being a business owner. The survey measures interest in owning a business, motivations for doing so, and barriers to and resources for business ownership.

Being the Boss, Higher Pay Potential Are Top Motivators for Entrepreneurs

The appeal of being one’s own boss and having the opportunity to earn more money top the list of reasons why business owners say they started their own enterprise. Those are also the top motivators for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Four in 10 people in each group also say that the desire for a more flexible work schedule is a key reason for wanting their own business. Schedule flexibility is a much greater driver of entrepreneurial interest for women than men. Fifty-two percent of women who want to start a business list the desire for a more flexible work schedule as one of their main reasons for wanting to start a business, compared with 38% of men who want to start a business.

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Most Helpful Resources: Prior Industry Experience, Support From Others

About six in 10 owners say prior industry experience (60%) and personal encouragement from people they know (57%) were among the best resources helping them get started in business, while 29% mention personal or community networks such as mentors or chambers of commerce. Forty-five percent say personal savings used to fund the business was a key resource.

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Importantly, the same resources that current business owners mention as being most helpful when they started are also the ones aspiring entrepreneurs say they currently have available to them -- encouragement from people they know (55%) and relevant industry experience (50%). About a third, 32%, have personal savings they could use to fund the business, and 27% mention personal or community business networks.

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Financial Matters Cited as a Primary Barrier to Starting a Business

While Americans are interested in being their own boss, financial matters remain a barrier for people to overcome when starting a business. Aspiring entrepreneurs rate a lack of funding (60%) and concerns about the personal financial risks of going into business (50%) as the biggest challenges they face.

Inflation (33%), needing to learn more about starting or managing a business (33%), lack of confidence that the business would succeed (26%), government regulation (25%), and access to business loans (24%) are also viewed as important challenges by aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Notably, current business owners say they faced similar barriers when starting their business. Forty percent say that concerns about the personal financial risks of going into business were one of the biggest challenges they faced, followed by a lack of money to start the business (30%). Twenty-nine percent mention government regulation as a key obstacle, and the same percentage say they needed to learn more about starting or managing a business.

Discussion

Small businesses are a key pillar of the U.S. economy and labor market, and entrepreneurs are critical to creating and sustaining economic activity. Although most Americans want to be their own boss, financial limitations and concerns create a key barrier for many to take action. Current business owners and those who have seriously considered owning a business are generally comfortable accepting at least a fair amount of financial risk to pursue their goals.

Importantly, there are no notable distinctions between current owners’ and aspiring entrepreneurs’ motivations, challenges and resources. This suggests that current owners can play a pivotal role in mentoring and encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to take the first step, particularly when it comes to sharing their strategies for overcoming the obstacles aspiring business owners commonly face. Perhaps more importantly, such collaboration would provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with the kind of individual and local organizational support that current business owners cite as helpful in getting off the ground.

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