US Census data shows that the average age of startup business owners is 40, but there’s something missing from this number: the bigger picture. If you look at the stats from a distance, you can see that over the last couple of years entrepreneurs have gotten older—but on the other hand, they’ve also gotten younger.
The amount of entrepreneurs between 50 and 60 years of age amounts to about one-third of the workforce, and college-age young adults who begin ventures are also on a steep rise. Since entrepreneurship accounted for 78 percent of all small businesses in the US in 2008, much of the over $900 billion earned by the small business market is attributable to the devoted and spirited entrepreneurs in our nation.
College Students and Entrepreneurship Education
For college students, the tough job market today acts as a catalyst to aspiring young business owners. In the last few years, college entrepreneurship programs have grown to meet this new demand. Because of this growth, the Princeton Review has done more in the last few years than just rank the party school aspect of American colleges—it also provides a yearly listing of the best entrepreneurship programs in these colleges and universities. The top ten college programs for undergraduate entrepreneurship are:
1. University of Houston (TX)
2. Baylor University (TX)
3. Babson College (MA)
4. Brigham Young University (UT)
5. University of Southern California (CA)
6. University of Dayton (OH)
7. Syracuse University (NY)
8. University of Notre Dame (IN)
9. Washington University in St. Louis (MO)
10. DePaul University (IL)
Couple this list with the fact that most of these colleges maintain a 90 percent or more ratio of former entrepreneurs to non-entrepreneurs as faculty, and you can see what’s making ventures so appealing to young adults. In addition, over half of the US workforce is employed within small business.
Small Business Statistics
The only thing to watch out for is the risk inherent in small business startups. The US Small Business Administration reported over 627,000 new businesses opened in 2008, but about 595,600 of them closed that same year. There were also 45,546 bankruptcies.
These sobering statistics are softened somewhat when compared to the declining costs for startups. These lowered costs depend mainly on the reduced employee base and initial lack of monthly overhead. College students may also have an edge over their older entrepreneurial counterparts on account of the myriad of college business plan competitions. The Princeton Review’s top ten entrepreneur colleges offer over $1.8 million in prizes, plenty of capital to get your name out there.
The Bottom Line
Why the rise in both older and younger entrepreneurs? The statistics paint the picture but provide few details as to the acceleration of this interesting trend. The fact remains that small businesses and startups are the lifeblood of the US economy, and we can all benefit from the opportunities available to aspiring entrepreneurs online.