39 Entrepreneur Statistics You Need to Know in 2021

39 Entrepreneur Statistics You Need to Know in 2021
ByDragomir Simovic
August 19,2021

Small businesses and ambitious enterprises are at the heart of every industry. Not only do they immensely contribute to the overall revenue of a country, but they also have a beneficial effect on the workers themselves. 

Employees who decide to make the switch and become independent employers feel more fulfilled and motivated to work. There are a lot of inspirational entrepreneur statistics out there that show us the US is still the best place in the world to become your own boss and start something new.

Now, young entrepreneurs are mostly concerned about the risks that come with new businesses, including funding, staff, and success rate. Indeed, a large number of business owners rely on loans to keep the company operational and often have to use their personal funds to tie some loose ends. 

However, loans also help them expand their business and achieve more within their industries. Finding high-quality staff is no easy task, which is why many owners decide to go it alone, at least for a while. It is necessary to understand that the entrepreneurship failure rate has never been lower, with only 20% of businesses closing after a year.

With such a promising startup environment, it’s no wonder a lot of people are choosing this path over being a traditional employee. For many, entrepreneurship is a great career choice that allows for a better work/life balance and more income. 

Studies have also shown that this is not a young man’s game, despite what the public believes. Successful businesses are usually started by middle-aged men and women who have experience and want to apply it in their field.

To start things off, we’ve chosen some of the most interesting stats on the web. Take a look.

Fascinating Entrepreneurship Statistics:

  • 90% of new American billionaires are self-made.
  • In 2016, there were 25 million Americans who were starting or already running their own business.
  • The number one reason why businesses fail is there’s no market need.
  • 46% of small business entrepreneurs are between the ages of 41 and 56.
  • There are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world.
  • 20% of small businesses fail within the first year.
  • Studies show middle-aged men start the most successful businesses.

Entrepreneurship Stats

90% of new American billionaires are self-made.

(Forbes,Forbes)

Despite the economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, some people enjoyed an unprecedented wealth surge, with a record high of 493 new billionaires added to Forbes’ annual list of the richest people in 2021. That brings the total number of billionaires in the world to 2,755. Among the newcomers are 88 Americans, most of whom are self-made. Young entrepreneurs are likely to be encouraged by these figures, which show that certain industries and investments can thrive even in times of major economic turmoil.

15 million Americans are full-time self-employed.

(FreshBooks, QuickBooks)

These entrepreneurial statistics from FreshBooks underscore a significant shift towards independent work. According to a separate study from Intuit’s QuickBooks, 28.2% of American workers had some form of self-employment in 2019. One out of every five workers plans a complete change of career once they get into entrepreneurship.

62% of adults believe entrepreneurship is a good career.

(Babson)

There seems to be a growing understanding of the benefits of entrepreneurship among people worldwide. According to Global Entrepreneurship Model entrepreneurs statistics from 2018/2019, more than half of them feel that starting one’s own business is a good career move. There may also be some misconceptions because an astonishing 40% of respondents think it’s easy to start a business, and 49% believe they have what it takes to do it.

There are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world.

(The Hill)

Although this is a significant rise compared to previous years, there is still quite a lot of room for improvement. Namely, entrepreneurship stats can help countries gain a better understanding of the market needs in certain areas and create a more fertile ground for this development. It is a great way to spot both the flaws and benefits of certain industries and act accordingly.

55% of entrepreneurs say their biggest motivation for starting their own business was the idea of being their own boss.

(Guidant Financial)

What’s more, 39% wanted to pursue their passion, and 25% just did it because the opportunity presented itself. For 25% of entrepreneurs, corporate America was the biggest problem, while 11% decided to start their own business after being laid off. According to entrepreneur data, another 10% did it because they weren’t ready to retire, and 4% were inspired by various life events.

30% of entrepreneurs only have a high school degree.

(Guidant Financial)

It may seem surprising, but almost a third of all small business owners never got any further than high school. This may offer reassurances to young people who are worried they won’t accomplish anything without going to college. Only 18% of small business owners hold a master’s degree, while 4% managed to get a doctorate.

In Brazil, 53% of the entrepreneurs operate on their own.

(Babson)

Entrepreneur statistics from 2018 tell us more than half of business owners in the biggest country in South America don’t have any employees or intend to hire any. With this number, Brazil is the world leader, leaving Madagascar a distant second with just 30% of solo operators.

The highest number of self-employed professionals (19.6%) work in the construction/trades field.

(FreshBooks)

It appears that construction is the most popular profession for entrepreneurs, followed by retail with 10.9%, real estate with 10.7%, and consulting with 10.3%. The creative professions are in 7th place according to entrepreneurship growth statistics, while marketing is at the very bottom with 1.7%.

With a Global Entrepreneurship Index of 83.6, the US is the best country for entrepreneurs.

(GEDI)

The Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) is a numerical presentation of the climate a country creates for the development of small businesses. This index takes into account numerous factors to create one comprehensive overview of the situation. Switzerland takes an unexpected second place with 80.4, followed by three English-speaking countries - Canada, the UK, and Australia. Chad is bottom of the list with an index of just 9.

59% of entrepreneurs who apply for a loan use it to expand their business.

(Federal Reserve Banks)

Entrepreneur demographics for 2018 show us that 43% of owners use the funds to cover their operating expenses, and 26% need them to refinance other loans. It appears that loans play a huge part in the world of small businesses, as enterprises rely heavily on them both to keep afloat and make crucial steps towards the future.

83.1% of US business owners started their companies.

(FactFinder)

In the true entrepreneurial spirit, 83.1% of owners built their companies from scratch. A significantly smaller percentage (11.3%) purchased their businesses, while 7.2% inherited them or received them as gifts.

Only 9% of entrepreneurs have a Bachelor’s Degree in business.

(TSheets)

According to entrepreneurship data, 32% of small business owners have only taken a couple of business classes, while most (46%) don’t have any form of business education.

(TSheets)

Quite logically, the internet is still one of the biggest resources for a small business owner. It contains plenty of official data that users might find useful. What’s more, it gives them a chance to interact with each other and help each other out. In fact, entrepreneur statistics show 19% of business owners first turn to their colleagues for advice, while 14% go to books for answers. Only 11% of respondents said they first turn to their family.

Studies show middle-aged men start the most successful businesses.

(MIT Sloan)

There is a belief that young people are responsible for most successful businesses out there. However, studies have shown that middle-aged men have a much better chance of succeeding in their enterprises, especially if they’ve already worked in the field before. Statistics about entrepreneurs tell us business owners who start their companies and hire at least one employee are 42 years of age on average.

(GuidantFinancial)

In a survey conducted by Guidant Financial of the most popular industries for small business, 12% of respondents were part of the food and restaurant business. This was followed by retail which includes eCommerce (11%), business services (11%), health/beauty and fitness services (9%), and residential/commercial services (7%).

Stats on Small Businesses

The number one reason why businesses fail is there’s no market need.

(CBInsights)

According to research from CBInsights, 42% of businesses fail for this simple reason. The second most common reason that affects 29% of businesses is the lack of funds - in a word, bankruptcy. The third reason with 23% is the lack of chemistry and teamwork between employees.

20% of small businesses fail in the first year.

(BLS)

New business statistics compiled in March 2020 show that only 80% of small businesses managed to get through their first year. On average, about half of all companies survive more than five years, while only about a third reach the 10-year mark.

46% of people who start small businesses are between the ages of 41 and 56.

(GuidantFinancial)

This is based on a 2021 Guidant Financial study which surveyed more than 2,400 current and aspiring small business owners. Baby boomers make up 41% of small business owners. Interestingly, 13% of entrepreneurs were millennials, followed by zoomers (1%).

62% of small businesses don’t have any staff.

(FreshBooks)

This stat makes sense considering a lot of entrepreneurs feel it’s quite difficult to find the right, high-quality staff for their companies. As such, many decide to simply go solo. The same report shows 28% of businesses have 1-5 employees, while only 10% have over five employees.

In 2015, small business employment made around 45% of total private employment in the US.

(Office of Advocacy)

There were over 124,000 jobs in the private sector, compared to nearly 60,000, according to statistics on small businesses. The biggest share in individual industries is agriculture and forestry, fishing & hunting with 85.1%. The smallest share of small businesses was in the company and enterprise management with 12.2%. Aside from that, there were also 24,155 small business jobs not classified in any specific industry.

Small companies were responsible for 97.6% of exported goods in the US in 2015.

(Office of Advocacy)

In total, 295,834 companies exported goods from the US in 2015. Out of that number, 97.6% were actually small businesses, which amounts to 287,835 firms overall. Despite the sheer number of entrepreneurs in the US, these small businesses only earned 32.9% of the country’s total export income - $1.3 trillion.

In a period of 21 years (from 1992 to 2013), small businesses accounted for 63.3% of new jobs in the US.

(Office of Advocacy)

Entrepreneurship has a positive effect on the national economy, as more than half of net new jobs came from these small businesses. In the aforementioned period, there were only two recessions, from 2001 to 2002 and 2007 to 2009, when the share was -47% and -61%, respectively.

Small businesses failure rate has declined by 30% since 1977.

(Entrepreneur)

These small business statistics come from Scott Shane, a professor at Case Western Reserve University. He explains the numbers by arguing that business owners got smarter, choosing profitable sectors and using reliable business-management technology. Apart from that, there is also a lower number of newly-created businesses and, therefore, less competition.

62% of small business owners use personal funds to deal with various financial challenges.

(Federal Reserve Banks)

Entrepreneurs deal with numerous financial challenges on a daily basis, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t make things any easier. The vast majority deal with these challenges by using money from their own pocket. Entrepreneurship statistics mention that 55% of owners had to cut staff hours or downsize to deal with the crisis. Unfortunately, 38% of owners made late payments or didn’t pay at all.

79% of small businesses have an outstanding debt.

(Federal Reserve Banks)

A majority of enterprises are in debt, with 56% owing less than $100,000. 44% of companies owe anywhere from $100k to $1 million, while 8% of companies owe over one million. This is according to an entrepreneur facts and statistics survey from 2021, although the outstanding debt is being carried over from at least one year earlier.

Office of Advocacy statistics show 60.1% of small businesses without paid employees are home-based.

(Office of Advocacy)

Many famous companies started off in their homes, garages, and basements. Stats show this is still the most popular location for small businesses and startups waiting for their big break. Of course, the situation changes when there are employees who demand certain working conditions, which is why only 23.3% of small employer firms are actually home-based.

Entrepreneur Statistics: Benefits and Challenges

39% of business owners use cash to start their companies.

(GuidantFinancial)

The second most popular way of funding small businesses for 20% of entrepreneurs is through their 401(k) retirement plan. On the other hand, 10% ask their friends and family for financial help, and 24% rely on various loans and credit. Crowdfunding was the least interesting option for entrepreneurs in 2021, and it was only used by 1% of businesses in 2019.

55% of Americans believe they are able to start their own business.

(Babson)

This figure from startup statistics for 2016 represents the national average, but the numbers are even higher in cities like Miami (60%) and Detroit (57%). Quite understandably, in these cities, there is also a lower number of entrepreneurs who are afraid of failing. Only 27% of entrepreneurs in Miami and 21% in Detroit have a fear of failing compared to the national average of 33%.

Businesses faced major challenges in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 23% of the cases, the biggest of these challenges was the lack of capital.

(GuidantFinancial)

Obviously, trying to make ends meet is no easy task, especially for small companies that are just starting out. Statistics on small business show that many entrepreneurs feel they are barely staying afloat. For 19% of businesses, the greatest challenge is the recruitment and retention of employees due to the pandemic. Another great challenge is marketing - getting the company on the map (15%), while 14% have a lot of problems with time management. Prior to the pandemic, only 10% of entrepreneurs outsourced bookkeeping, while 17% outsourced accounting to a CPA and 15% outsourced payroll.

For 43% of employees the biggest benefit of being self-employed is control over one’s career.

(FreshBooks)

In that same sense, 43% of surveyed employees found in statistics on entrepreneurs say career change is a great motivator for turning away from traditional employment. 33% of state the main reason why they would switch to self-employment is the financial incentive. While 32% of employees would start their own business for family reasons, 15% list health. They seem to believe being your own boss is less stressful or demanding and, therefore, better for your health.

54% of self-employed entrepreneurs say they make more money now.

(FreshBooks)

This is something 67% of employees feel will happen once they’ve made the switch. 74% of employees feel they will also have to work harder when they become self-employed, but in reality only 59% of entrepreneurs actually do so. The smallest difference in terms of expectations vs. reality of self-employment based on statistics about entrepreneurship is regarding work/life balance. 66% of people believe they will achieve it through entrepreneurship, and 68% of entrepreneurs confirm it.

97% of self-employed professionals say they would never go back to traditional employment.

(FreshBooks)

If we look at these stats and compare them to previous ones, we can conclude that making the switch seems to be the biggest concern. Once it happens, a huge majority of employees feel satisfied with their choices. In addition to that, 70% of entrepreneurs work actively towards expanding their business, so there are certainly no regrets there.

For 27% of entrepreneurs, the hardest thing is to find talented staff or contractors.

(FreshBooks)

As you can imagine, making the switch from an employee to an employer comes with its own set of problems. US entrepreneurship statistics tell us that, besides finding quality workers, entrepreneurs also have problems with acquiring new customers (23%), finding money to reinvest (22%), setting the right prices (16%), and managing time effectively (15%). Interestingly, 17% of small business owners also mention one problem that people don’t normally think about - not having enough cash in hand because it all goes through their company.

Minority-Owned Businesses

The majority of entrepreneurs in the US (64%) are white.

(Babson)

14% are African-Americans, while 8% are Latino/Hispanic. Additionally, minority-owned business statistics for 2018 show the rates are a lot more stable among whites and least stable among African-Americans. This piece of information could signify that the white ethnicity is still privileged.

61% of baby boomers say they would work through retirement by choice.

(FreshBooks)

45% of millennials would do the same, as would 47% of employees who belong to gen X. Although it would appear that baby-boomers seem to be more into working post-retirement, the truth is their opinion might be affected by the fact they’re either already retired or very nearly so. These startup statistics in 2018 numbers will undoubtedly change once gen X employees get closer to retirement.

For every 10 male entrepreneurs, there are seven female entrepreneurs.

(Babson)

Around the world, there are 10 male entrepreneurs for every seven female entrepreneurs. However, in six countries, this discrepancy has been all but ironed out, with women and men starting their own businesses at the same rate. These six countries are Indonesia, Thailand, Panama, Qatar, Madagascar, and Angola.

There are 8 million minority-owned businesses in the US.

(Office of Advocacy)

That being said, minority-owned businesses seem to hire fewer employees. In general, they have slightly over eight employees, while non-minority owners hire more than 11 workers on average. The percentage of entrepreneurs in America shows us there’s a substantial difference between men and women entrepreneurs. Male owners hire more than 12 employees on average, while female entrepreneurs hire slightly over eight people.

Data from 2017 tells us there are an estimated 11.9 million small businesses in the US owned by women.

(American Express)

These companies provide jobs for 9 million people and generate around $1.7 trillion in total. Over the course of 20 years, the number of female entrepreneurs has grown by 114%, which dramatically beats the total businesses growth rate of 44%. Furthermore, startup statistics show women-owned businesses make up 39% of all US companies.

Minorities accounted for 46% of women-owned businesses in the US in 2017.

(American Express)

There are around 5.5 million businesses owned by women who belong to minority groups. These enterprises employ more than 2.1 million people and generate $361 billion in revenue. African-American women make up 19% of the total women-owned businesses, Latinas own 17%, and Asian-American women own 9%.

Frequently Asked Questions
What percent of entrepreneurs are successful?

It depends on what you mean when you say successful. Entrepreneurship statistics show one third of all companies manage to get through their 10th year, which can be considered quite a success. The large majority of successful entrepreneurs are actually middle-aged men who have been in the industry for quite some time.

What is the failure rate of all entrepreneurs?

Only 20% of small businesses close during their first year. Around half of all companies survive for at least five years, while a third of companies last for 10 years. This might seem like a scary piece of information, but the fact remains that 80% of enterprises survive through their first year.

What percent of entrepreneurs went to college?

According to entrepreneur statistics, 70% of entrepreneurs went to college, but nearly a third didn’t. However, when it comes to business-related education, 17% have a Bachelor’s Degree, 18% have a Master’s Degree, and 4% have a PhD in business. Although it’s far from attending college, 32% of business owners said they’d taken at least a couple of business classes.

About author

Dragomir Simovic is a staff writer for SmallBizGenius, where he regularly contributes well-researched, engaging content about the latest trends in the finance industry. As a successful entrepreneur and freelancer himself, he knows the ins and outs of running a small business and is eager to share his insights. When he’s not analyzing the latest finance news or thinking up startup strategies, Dragomir likes to play the guitar, discover new indie games, and sample craft brews – responsibly, of course.

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(McKinsey & Company) Women in leadership positions are more likely than men in senior-level roles to take a public stand on racial and gender diversity and champion the advancement of employee-friendly programs and policies. Women CEOs are also more likely to sponsor and mentor other female workers. According to the results of a recent survey, 38% of women in senior-level positions currently mentor or sponsor at least one woman of color, compared to only 23% of men in the same roles.   Female CEOs are running 41 Fortune 500 companies. (Fortune, Statista) In 2021, the number of women appointed to CEO positions in America's 500 highest-grossing companies reached an all-time high. 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