Two weeks ago the Kauffman Foundation, a well-regarded nonprofit group that specializes in entrepreneurism, released its annual State of Entrepreneurship report – and at least in one respect, the news is encouraging. The report found that, despite still being below the peak that preceded the Great Recession, private enterprise is rebounding and entrepreneurs are driving a resurgence of business activity in America.

However, most of those entrepreneurs are still mostly old, white men.

Even as the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, the changes in the composition of our entrepreneurs is not reflecting these changes: 80.2 percent are white and 64.5 percent are male (other reports have put the average age of a small business owner at around 50 years old). The Kauffman report found that minorities own half as many businesses as non-minorities and their businesses start smaller and stay smaller mostly due to capital challenges. Women are also half as likely as men to own employer businesses.

There are two other big trends that are affecting entrepreneurship: new businesses are gravitating towards cities and they’re just not employing as many people as before.

For example, in 1977, about 20 percent of businesses were started in rural areas. That number has dropped to about 12 percent. This migration has hurt many nonurban communities. Thanks to automation and technology, more and more companies –like Facebook – are able to achieve $1 billion in annual sales with a fraction of the number of people that similar companies – like Kodak – needed decades ago. More startups are needed to make up this gap.

The foundation’s Chief Executive Wendy Guillies is calling for more government and community support for startups and entrepreneurs and is launching a new initiative to identify and help eliminate the barriers that are in the way.

The takeaways? The population is changing but the demographics of today’s small business owners aren’t, startups are leaving the heartland and are employing fewer people.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.