The “New Normal” Hasn’t Dampened Teens’ Interest in Becoming Entrepreneurs

Research by Junior Achievement and Brian Hamilton Foundation Shows Teens’ Interest In Startups Is Still High, Despite Pandemic’s Impact on Small Business

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A new survey for Junior Achievement (JA) and the Brian Hamilton Foundation by research firm ENGINE Insights shows that teens remain open to becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business despite the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. small businesses. Two-thirds (66%) of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 said they were “likely” to consider starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur as an adult. A similar survey conducted in 2017 showed that nearly the same percentage of teens (69%) were likely to start a business then. The 2020 survey of 1,000 teens was conducted from May 14 to 20, 2020.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy and the driver of job growth,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Despite the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown on the business community, it is encouraging to see the next generation still interested in considering entrepreneurship as a career path. We must encourage that interest going forward.”

“With all of the very-public challenges facing small businesses today, I was glad to see the survey results reflecting that current economic conditions have not reduced interest in entrepreneurship among teens,” said Charlie Bradley, CEO of the Brian Hamilton Foundation.

“It’s notable that almost 30 percent of teens responded that their greatest concern about starting a business is the risk involved,” Bradley continued. “We recommend that youth start businesses now, as teens, for just that reason. When you’re young, there is almost no downside to failure.”

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly a third of teens (29%) said their greatest concern about starting a business is that it’s “too risky,” while a quarter (24%) don’t believe there’s “enough money in it.” Fewer (18%) said it didn’t “fit my personality/skills.”
  • Most teens (52%) said they need “someone to invest” in their business to consider being an entrepreneur. Nearly as many (51%) said they would need “more information on what it would take to be successful” and (47%) said they would need “support from parents and family.” Around a third of teens (38%) would need “friends with similar interest” to team with them, and a similar amount (34%) would need “a role model who is a business owner.”

The survey was conducted in support of the recently streamed virtual event, “Why Entrepreneurship Now” featuring entrepreneur and Shark Tank “shark” Mark Cuban and fintech entrepreneur Brian Hamilton. Watch the event here.