Survey: Half of Working U.S. Adults Either Own a Business Or Want To

business owner survey

Entrepreneurship continues to be a popular career choice in the U.S. Half of the working adults in the U.S. either own or want to own their own business, according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Phoenix School of Business. And of those Americans who work but don’t own their own business, 39 percent would like to some day.

Age also seems to  play a factor. For example, just more than half of the respondents in their twenties who don’t currently own a business would like to some day. Half of the people surveyed in their thirties and 35 percent of those in their forties said the same.

And entrepreneurship seems to be an interest even for those later in their careers. For example, 26 percent of working adults in their fifties and 17 percent in their sixties still say they would like a business of their own, the survey said.

The survey also found that – apart from finances – lack of training, education and the knowledge of exactly how to go about running a business were the biggest barriers holding would-be entrepreneurs back.

In an official release announcing the results of the survey, Michael Bevis, Director of Academic Affairs for the University of Phoenix and member of the faculty at the business school explains:

“Starting your own business can be an exciting and fulfilling pursuit, but requires significant planning, resources and business knowledge. Many potential entrepreneurs have great ideas and a strong understanding of specific industries, but often do not have the business background to turn concepts into profitable ventures. Business education can help entrepreneurs fill knowledge gaps and strengthen business acumen.”

University of Phoenix teamed with Harris Poll for its results. They surveyed more than 1,100 working adults — full- and part-time including self-employed workers — to get their opinion on entrepreneurship.

The survey is part of the online university’s upcoming Think Big campaign. The campaign is expected to include more than 40 events nationwide in August aimed at providing resources for perspective and existing entrepreneurs to launch and sustain successful  businesses.

Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

9 Reactions
  1. Interesting article. A few facts you might also find interesting
    There are approximate 28 million businesses operation across the US (those who file taxes) Out of these:
    78% are solopreneurs (one person businesses)
    17% are Micro-enterprises (1 – 10 employees) (Together this represents 95% of all businesses)
    4.5% are SMB (11 – 499 employees)
    .5% are large companies (500+ employees)
    The Small Business Learning Center (SBLC.Biz) is a one-stop, on-line resource for information, ideas, classes, vital services, products, ans support services. Our focus is the Mature Entrepreneur looking to start-up or grow a solopreneurship or micro-enterprise. We are the only non-government, non academic group, non-corporate resource that specializes in helping people understand the BizCube Paradigm the only true micro-enterprise business model

    • Folks – The problem with schools teaching any kind of entrepreneurship is they can’t break with the traditional academic/organizational paradigm. Solopreneurships and Micro-enterprises are NOT simply little big businesses. The mindset and the approach to starting and building these kinds of businesses is completely different from the traditional mindset. For over 30 years the statistics for business start-up and failure rates have never changed, neither has the academic paradigm.

  2. It’s a good thing that entrepreneurship is becoming more popular. I have always been an advocate of pursuing what you love to do and share what you can do with other people. I am also a business owner but I try my best to inspire aspiring business owners to pursue their dreams.

  3. Even though I’m not personally a fan of for-profit educational institutions, they make a very good point. Running a business is complicated (big thanks to the government there) and does require a skill set that isn’t taught at most jobs or in many schools.

  4. I think there’ll continue to be a huge number of people who’ll have an interest in running their own business. The economy, the rapid growth of technology and social media may have something to do with that.

    I also think Entrepreneurship should be taught in schools like Robert mentioned. It’s a practical and useful skill even if some go on not to be entrepreneurs.

  5. I think that the 50+ demographic has different expectations when thinking about the field of entrepreneurship or small business training. We already know that the main barriers are business training, education and knowledge as per this discussion article. I also think that we are approaching the 50+ Group in the wrong way. Let’s try one on one mentorship instead of a cookie cutter approach that is most appropriate for younger entrepreneurs. We need different kinds of workshops for the 50+ demographic. First to assess if business ownership is appropriate, and secondly if the business idea proposed is feasible and marketable. What we don’t need is consultants charging ‘piles of money’ and in the end the individual is no further ahead than where he or she originally started out.