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Younger Entrepreneurs Slowing Down

Mark Marich

A few years back, a report from the Kauffman Foundation shook up the common perception that there were hordes of young tech geeks—all looking to build the next Google or Facebook—driving an entrepreneurial revolution. The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom showed that 55-64 year olds had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity while 20-34 year olds had the lowest. Last week, a new survey from American Express OPEN shows that the Great Recession didn’t exactly make things any better for Generation Y.

The ‘Ages Survey’ compares Gen Y entrepreneurs (24-35) to Boomers (48-70) and finds that the younger group is more risk-averse than they were when surveyed in 2007—only 56% said they liked taking risks (down from 72%). The drop, coupled with other factors, has resulted in fewer launching startups straight out of college (16% vs. 28% in 2007) and less interest in serial entrepreneurship.

However, those who persevered found some measure of success. Small businesses owned by Gen Y entrepreneurs grew at a much faster rate than those owned by Boomers—24% revenue growth vs. 10%.

“Resilience is a trait shared by both generations of entrepreneurs,” said Susan Sobbott, president American Express OPEN. “Younger business owners channeled their passion through innovative thinking and thrived in the face of adversity while older entrepreneurs relied on experience to weather the storm and find a better life balance.”

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