One Third of Americans Have Considered Starting a Business. Here’s What’s Stopping Them
Maybe you shouldn’t let these concerns keep you from trying.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Have you ever thought about starting your own business? According to a new survey conducted this summer by Qualtrics on behalf of LendingTree, 32 percent of Americans considered doing just that in the past 12 months But the overwhelming majority of them never got past the dreaming stage.
What's stopping them? Here are some of their answers:
1. Not enough capital.
The most commonly cited top reason was the same one that's stopped entrepreneurship through the ages: 42 percent said they didn't have enough money to get started with. But not every would-be entrepreneur is stopped by a lack of capital. Almost a third of respondents said they would consider applying for an SBA loan to start a business. Another 15 percent said they'd apply for a non-SBA loan, with 15 percent more saying they would finance a business with their own cash or credit cards. And many of them don't think much financing would be needed: 23 percent expected that they could get a business off the ground with $5,000 or less.
Even if you are turned down by the SBA or a bank--more than half of the survey respondents thought getting an SBA loan would be tough--there are lots of ways to turn that around or else move on and get a loan on your second try.
2. Just can't get moving.
Some survey respondents were particularly honest: 44 percent said the reason they'd never taken any steps toward starting a business, such as registering the business, applying for a loan, or working on their business on the side and gave "inertia" as the reason why not.
If any of this sounds familiar, now is a great time to try and break the pattern. Inertia grips us worst when we contemplate an enormous task--and starting a whole business from scratch certainly qualifies. The key to overcoming that inertia is to break the huge task down into tiny baby steps and just tackle them one at a time without focusing on the big picture. For instance, you could download an SBA loan application today. That's it, no need to do anything but find the form and download it for today. Tomorrow, perhaps you could allot 10 minutes toward filling it out. And so on.
3. Fear of going broke.
Only one fifth of respondents said they'd be willing (and able) to earn no income while getting their business started. On the other hand, 16 percent said they couldn't afford to earn even a little less than they're earning right now. For those who can't forgo a salary, starting a business as a side hustle often makes a lot of sense, but less than 20 percent of respondents seemed willing to do that.
Most are protective of their personal finances, which is understandable since starting a business is far from a sure thing. That's why 23 percent of respondents said they would not take on any personal debt at all to start a business. Another 19 percent, though, said they were willing to take on $25,000 or more in personal debt to get their business going.
Millennials are by far the the most willing group to start a business, with 42 percent saying they had thought about starting a business or even already started one. Generation X respondents weren't far behind at 39 percent. And it's interesting to note that parenthood doesn't seem to be holding people back from entrepreneurship--44 percent of respondents with children said they'd considered starting a business, substantially more than the childless had.
Among Baby Boomers, on the other hand, only 22 percent had considered starting a business in the past year. Perhaps they're unwilling to take a financial risk as they draw nearer to retirement, or they fear they'll lack the energy and stamina to handle a startup's intense work and long hours. It's a shame, though, because research consistently shows that older entrepreneurs are, on average, more successful than younger ones.
What about you? Have you thought about starting a business? Since you're reading this site, I'm guessing you have. Have you actually started one? If you haven't, what's stopping you?