The numbers are surprising – young entrepreneurs are apparently a dying breed. New data has shown that the number of people under age 30 who own private businesses has reached a 24-year-low. The new data seems to underscore financial challenges and a low tolerance for risk among young Americans. In fact, the number of young adults who start a business each month dropped in 2013 to its lowest level in at least 17 years, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., nonprofit that focuses on entrepreneurship. People ages 20 to 34 accounted for 22.7% of new entrepreneurs in 2013, down from 26.4% in 2003.
I think there are a number of reasons for this. As we all know, today’s students and future small business owners are graduating with a staggering amount of student loan debt. Thanks to the recession, recent graduates also have less average net worth than their predecessors, complicating the scenario even more. Also having lived through the recession, young people have less confidence in their skills, their ability to raise capital or even find a job if their business were to fail.
That low appetite for risk is a big problem. Are we raising our children to fear failure? Where are they learning that? Or is it simply a smarter decision that they are making to protect themselves from even further financial detriment?
Or is something else? Is the American dream not dead, but changed for today’s young people? I invite you to follow my blog series over the next few months as I throw out my thoughts on the Millennial generation and the future of small business.
- On February 17, 2015