Small Biz Matters

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Small Business

Is entrepreneurship for the young?

March 28, 2012
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Anyone who has ever attended a Verge startup pitch could be forgiven for assuming that entrepreneurship is a young man’s game. Literally.

But over the past 15 years, the percentage of entrepreneurs in the 20- to 34-year-old age group actually has dropped, according to a study released this month by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

In 1996, nearly 35 percent of entrepreneurs were young guns with little to lose. Last year, they represented fewer than 30 percent of business owners, according to the annual Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.

Those in the 55-64 age group, meanwhile, picked up the slack. The share of entrepreneurs in the oldest age bracket increased from 14 percent to almost 21 percent.

Indeed, entrepreneurship rates have increased as traditional employment opportunities have declined, the Kauffman report said.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining why the U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a series of seminars across the country—including one in Indianapolis today—to promote entrepreneurship as a career path.

Region V Administrator Marianne Markowitz will lead today’s session, which includes a panel of successful young entrepreneurs and information about resources available through the federal agency.

“SBA recognizes a need to promote and better support the efforts of young people looking to create jobs,” the agency said in a news release.

And it’s never too early to start. This spring, more than 10,000 central Indiana youth are expected to learn how to start, own and operate their own business as part of the national Lemonade Day initiative.

The local effort, launched by Indianapolis tech entrepreneur Scott Jones in 2010, last year had 10,000 participants who opened lemonade stands and generated more than $1.3 million in revenue on a single day.

The 2012 event is scheduled for May 19. This year’s goal: 15,000 kids and $2 million in sales.

What do you make of the focus on young entrepreneurs? Is it easier to strike out on your own early in your professional life, or does experience help?

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