Can’t Decide on a Career? 66% of Adults Believe Entrepreneurship is a Good Career Choice

Careers
Posted By Terri Williams on March 15, 2016 at 9:53 am
Can’t Decide on a Career? 66% of Adults Believe Entrepreneurship is a Good Career Choice

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in this country and abroad. Globally, adults look favorably on would-be business owners, and many also think they have the skills and ability to be entrepreneurs themselves.

At least, these are the results of the 2015/2016 Global Report recently released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. The report reveals that globally:

  • 66% of working-age adults believe that entrepreneurship is a good career choice
  • 21% plan to start a business within the next three years
  • Over half of adults believe they are capable of starting a business
  • Entrepreneurship rates are the highest among 25-to 34-year olds, and 35-to 44- year olds.

However, U.S. respondents don’t necessarily lead the pack in terms of embracing entrepreneurship. Below are selected excerpts from the U.S.-based portion of the report.

Self-Perceptions About Entrepreneurship

Below are the U.S. percentages and how they rank among the 60 countries that completed the Adult Population Survey:

U.S. Respondents Percentage Rank/60
Perceived opportunities 46.6 25
Perceived capabilities 55.7 21
Fear of failure 29.4 15
Entrepreneurial intentions 12.4 41

 

U.S. Responses in the National Expert Survey

The report also included commentary from various experts in 62 economies. These individuals evaluated several factors to determine if their particular country provided an environment that was conducive to entrepreneurship.

Rating each factor, where 1 = highly insufficient, and 9 = highly sufficient, below are the results of how the U.S. ranks among the 62 economies that completed the National Expert Survey:

National Expert Survey – U.S. Rating Rank/62
Entrepreneurial finance 5.41 5
Culture and social norms 6.79 2
Physical infrastructure 7.1 10
Internal market burdens or entry regulation 4.41 19
Internal market dynamics 5.64 17
Commercial and legal infrastructure 5.41 17
R&D transfer 4.15 19
Entrepreneurship education at school stage 3.52 24
Entrepreneurship education at post school stage 4.42 33
Government policies: support and relevance 4.35 24
Government policies: taxes and bureaucracy 4.59 17
Government entrepreneurship programs 4.07 36

 

The U.S. appears to be in the middle of the road in terms of sufficiency in the 12 areas but still ranks very highly when compared to other countries.

So, is entrepreneurship a good idea for young people in America? GoodCall asked three young business owners and one career services manager to examine the pros and cons.

3 reasons to consider entrepreneurship

Allen Walton, the 28-year old founder of SpyGuy Security, tells GoodCall there are at least three good reasons to consider becoming an entrepreneur.

  • Entrepreneurship gives you money to buy your freedom. “Enough said. You no longer have the pressures of a boss, being tied to a 9-5, and putting up with only a 3% raise each year,” says Walton, who adds that by finding opportunities via entrepreneurship, you can make a lot more money.   
  • Having a job accumulates silent risk: “The longer people go in their careers without any change, the more silent risk accumulates,” says Walton. He explains, “They get comfortable, their skills do not change, they think that they are safe and cozy.” But this is only an illusion.
  • Jobs are going to be replaced by foreign workers: “An American bookkeeper may think their job is safe, but what happens when a Filipino bookkeeper that speaks perfect English comes along and is willing to do the same work for a quarter of the price?” asks Walton. “Why should the employer stick with the American bookkeeper?”

Launching a business in college

And Dylan Husted, an undergraduate student at Babson College (the lead founding and lead sponsoring institution of the report) is the founder and CEO of SaveOhno.org. He tells GoodCall that there are even more advantages to launching a business while in college.

“You’re forced to learn so much about every aspect of that business that you effectively get a web development, graphic design, marketing, accounting, crowdfunding, management, and branding internship all at once,” says Husted. And this experience can give you an advantage over the competition when you’re applying for a job. “Problem is, after launching your own business, you’ll never want those positions again,” concludes Husted.

But these are not the only two young entrepreneurs who think they made the right choice. Michael Kliska, who graduated from Babson College in 2015, is the VP of Brand and Business Development at Joe Grooming. The fulltime team consists solely of Kliska and his father, and he says the company has grown 30% each year over the past four years.

Kliska echoes Husted’s comments that entrepreneurs are forced to understand every aspect of the business. “Grappling with the development of these skills requires forming great relationships with mentors, seeking out additional educational resources and learning by trial and error,” Kliska tells GoodCall. And by mastering all of these business aspects at such a young age, he believes that these individuals will be well-prepared to succeed now and in the future.

Young entrepreneurs also learn responsibility, since Kliska says they are ultimately accountable for the success or failure of their business venture. “You have the responsibility to serve your customers well, appeal to current and future stakeholders, and to meet your own personal expectations for success.” Some of the obstacles and challenges may be out of the young business owner’s control, such as a delayed shipment. “But it is always the responsibility of the entrepreneur to adapt, make the most of the situation and find success regardless of the external circumstances,” says Kliska.

And if those aren’t enough advantages, young entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to understand strategy and resource allocation, while gaining industry expertise. “Most early career roles at larger firms are about executing on a project or analyzing processes/data – very rarely do you have the opportunity, as an entry-level employee, to understand how the firm makes its decision on what projects to pursue or what processes/data to analyze,” says Kliska. However, young business owners are forced to make those strategic decisions and learn more about the industry.

Words of caution on personal finances, uncertain futures

We want to balance all of these positives with a frank discussion on the negatives aspects of pursuing a career as an entrepreneur – especially at such a young age. Kliska admits that it’s a big financial risk, and he warns, “With the prevalence of student loans, the increase of housing prices in innovation cities (San Francisco, New York, Boston, etc.), the cost of travel as an entrepreneur and other expenses, living without a steady paycheck can be detrimental.” If you can’t manage your personal finances, he warns that your financial decisions may haunt you in the future.

It’s also important to understand that your business is not a Chia-pet. You don’t water it one day and expect to be fully developed within the next two to three weeks. “Not only does it take time for the business to grow over time, but being an entrepreneur also takes time everyday,” says Kliska. And he warns that how you prioritize your day and spend your time could make or break your business.

There is also a certain degree of uncertainty involved in entrepreneurship. “Even with the right resources, the right strategy, the right team and the right business opportunity, you never know what is going to happen,” says Kliska. “You might be successful with this venture, you might not, and having that knowledge as a constant fact can be motivating but also daunting.”

Entrepreneurs experience failure, sacrifice work-life balance

In fact, Kristin Scarth, career services manager and CPRW at Employment Boost, tells GoodCall that startups can sound sexy and enticing to those under the age of 30.  However, she says, “The reality is that 80% of new businesses fail in the first 2 years and even more businesses ‘fail’ within 5 years, so our career planning managers have our clients ask themselves the question, ‘Am I resilient enough to fail eight times in order to succeed the ninth time?’ ”

And besides the stress of failure, Scarth says there is also the stress of always being, “on the clock,” which could be problematic since work-life balance is particularly important to millennials and post-millennials.

“For us, the biggest risk is dealing with what happens to peoples’ careers at mid-life because we see a lot of professionals break down in their 40’s from years of stress at school, work and the ups and downs of their personal life,” says Scarth. And while she’s in favor of entrepreneurship, Scarth warns, “What happens when you’re 40 or 50 and your business doesn’t work out and you have to find a job somewhere else? That transition is extremely hard to make and as this generation ‘lives for now,’ that way of thinking – the ‘invincible millennial mindset’ – can really hurt them 20 years from now.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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