Industries & Professions /
Entrepreneurship has long been considered risky, although that perception is slowly changing, thanks to the number of successful online businesses. Still, it takes considerable money, time, and effort to open a business and to keep it going long enough to start seeing profits. Success also depends on trends, customer demand, political climate, competition, the economy, and other unpredictable social factors. The longer a company remains in business, the more likely it is to succeed. However, companies can still go out of business up to 15 years after launching. According to Small Business Administration data reported in 2010, seven out of 10 new employer firms survived at least 2 years; 50 percent survived at least 5 years; a third of the companies survived at least 10 years; and 25 percent survived 15 years or more. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 15.3 million self-employed people in 2009, about 1 out of every 9 employees in the country. The 2009 report also indicated that largest population of self-employed people were those of retirement age, age 65 or older. The smallest self-employed populations were ages 16 to 19 and 20 to 24. Gender does not seem to play a role when it comes to starting a business. According to the report, an almost equal number of men and women were self-employed. In spite of the risks associated with starting a business, entrepreneurship continues to be strong. It is part of the American identity-the United States is viewed worldwide as a land of opportunity. A study by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership found that 70 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 19 were interested in becoming business owners. Of the general public, 50 percent are thinking about starting a business. There are no educational, racial, or gender barriers to starting a new business, so there are opportunities for people of all backgrounds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minority-owned businesses include 4.1 million firms that generated $694.1 billion in revenues as of 2002. About one in five of all minority-owned firms had paid employees and more than 4,400 minority-owned firms had 100 or more employees. The trend in home-based businesses is growing rapidly. The trend was started initially by women who wanted to stay home to care for their children but either didn't want to give up their jobs or needed the income. Now more than half of the people working from home are men. Other factors that have contributed to the increase of at-home businesses include downsizing during hard economic times, the growth of the Internet and computer technology, and the growth of the service sector of the economy. Many college students are financing their educations through working at home as freelance workers or independent contractors. This sector of entrepreneurs is expected to continue to grow, according to a report published in 2012 by Intuit. The freelance population is expected to be 40 percent of all workers by 2020. Other students are financing their educations by launching their own e-business. E-commerce is thriving and generating increasing interest and business. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. manufacturers reported e- commerce shipments were $2.7 trillion in 2011, up 15.3 percent from a revised $2.4 trillion in 2010. The entrepreneurial spirit in America is accepted and well respected. There is honor and pride associated with starting a business from scratch and working hard to make it succeed. Anyone can start a business, whether motivated by a love for making raspberry jam, the familiarity of carrying on the family printing business, the invention of a new dot-com niche, or the ability to anticipate the next craze in electronic gadgets. The opportunities are endless for entrepreneurs who are willing to accept the risks, or blindly ignore them.