Is Entrepreneurship Dying?

Once upon a time, men and women across America had aspirations that amounted to great entrepreneurial feats. Millions wanted to develop businesses, and sought nothing more than a company or organization to call their own.

But in recent years, both social and economic developments have led to less young North Americans seeking an entrepreneurial future. While this may suggest that entrepreneurship is dying, it does not mean that there is no hope for the future of America’s budding businessmen and women.

One of the major contributing factors to a lack of budding entrepreneurs that many overlook is how accessible college has become in recent years; practically anyone and everyone can get a degree! Over the past two decades, more men and women have chosen to enter into vocational qualifications, as well as heading to college. As the population expands and technology changes, more people are needed in professions that require specific qualifications and training. The more work you put into a career, the more you might second-guess the possibility of going out on your own.

Of course, it’s also necessary to focus on the political influences that draw people away from entrepreneurship. As legislation changes, the number of people required in different industries and the public sector does also. Much to the dismay of Obama-hating Fox News reporters, Obamacare has led to a prediction of a demand for more doctors. This will ultimately mean more people will have the opportunity to enter into the career. A stable paycheck is said to be the number one enemy of entrepreneurship. I think this is because entrepreneurs need to be prepared and even geared for risk.

Entrepreneurship also offers very little work/life balance. the desire for work/life balance has increased greatly, especially with Generation Y as it is highly rated as one of the most important things to look for in any career. It is possible that many people are turning their backs on entrepreneurship with the changing ideal work environment.

Finally, the recent financial crisis has led to less funding available for entrepreneurs. It stands to reason that while the rest of us have no money to spend, budding entrepreneurs may as well be “peeing into the wind”. Small business growth requires capital and free capital that is looking for a home may be scarce right now.

Although it may seem like the above factors are leading to the death of entrepreneurship, it is more reasonable to suggest that it is simply slowing down, not dying. While previous decades may have seen more entrepreneurs, it is more likely that those years were experiencing a boom that is hard to match right now. There are countless magazines and even TV shows (Shark Tank, anyone?) that prove there is still a significant interest in entrepreneurship.

As time moves forward, we may experience more entrepreneurs coming out of the woodwork, or it could go the other way. What do you think? Are any of you successful entrepreneurs?

Author’s Bio:
Jon Emge is a Senior Advisor and Content Manager. He is a published author and has assisted and advised clients on personal finance. In his spare time he enjoys listening to music, going to the odd festival and practicing his poetry skills!

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44 thoughts on “Is Entrepreneurship Dying?

  1. Nope, I totally disagree. My perspective may be skewed from the blogs I read and the fact I write about entrepreneurs for a living and thus am tapped into that scene, but I think entrepreneurship is bigger than even and not going away anytime soon.

    That said, I do feel like the PF blog world is swinging back toward the other end - in favour of the corporate path, or at least being more accepting of those who DON"T want the freelance lifestyle ( you and me). I wouldn't go as far as to call it a backlash, just a trend.

  2. Re: work life balance - agree that this is more important to us, but on the flipside, a lot of Gen Yers don't believe in work life balance at all anymore. Such is the byproduct of a generation that's all about following your passion. Work bleeds over into life and the boundaries blur when work is enjoyable. / my two cents.

  3. Shows like Shark Tank and Dragons' Den really get me excited about the entrepreneurial spirit in our country. I'm pretty confident about where the trend is going. Currently about 15% of our labour force is self-employed, and I think it's a positive sign that 80% of new entrepreneurs say they made the decision to start a business voluntarily, not because they couldn't find a job. One interesting stat I read recently in a CIBC study was that even though 70% of new business are started by men, women tend to be more successful, lol. I think new start-ups will gain more popularity in the future 😀 but we will have some speed bumps along the way. Some people may consider it a bit of a stretch, but personally I would consider any blogger who's making money from her site an entrepreneur already (^_~)

  4. I think there's actually been a rise in entrepreneurship due to the economy. More people are dissatisfied with their jobs or want a change and start their own business on the side or leave their job to start a business. I've read several articles that are arguing this and have seen it around people I know. My wife and I run our own business and absolutely love it. I will agree though that it makes a major damper on work/life balance. To me it's worth it though to be my own boss and do things as I see fit.

  5. I think today if you settle for normal employment, you can still have a chance at a career, which was not necessarily the case 50 years ago. A secretary would retire a secretary. So people can be tempted to go corporate instead of starting a business, as a zero risk strategy. Nevertheless, entrepreneurship has never been easier, with startups like Ebay or Airbnb showing you that you don't need a product, just a good idea and a computer, and you can start a multi million dollar business.
    I am working for myself but wouldn't consider myself an entrepreneur since I don't look for ways to expand my business, rather to work as little as possible to live comfortably.

  6. I don't think entrepreneurship is dying, far from it. I think entrepreneurship is getting organized. There are some many startup funds and so many startups coming up, They are getting more technology focused but there are also one who are doing manufacturing. See sites like kickstarter where you will see brilliant new companies taking shape and organizations like Y-combinator who are funding companies right from the concept stage.

  7. I agree with the above. I don't think entrepreneurship is dying at all. In times of recession, entrepreneurship is on the upswing. Although we're much better than 2008, the economy hasn't exactly prospered since then. We're still recuperating. Many people who were laid off have decided to start businesses. For the past 4-5 years, I've worked with start-ups, entrepreneurs and incubators so I know that stats don't lie. Also, don't forget that people who work at home and even bloggers who make income are considered entrepreneurs too.

  8. It’s hard to say whether people want to be entrepreneurs this day and age, and what people want is not something you can produce figures to establish. If less people are going into business these days, well it is probably because of the climate as it is that prevents it.

    But in days gone by, people were driven to own their own business to escape harder manual work for someone else. This would have given them the tenacity that perhaps is missing today. After all many jobs we are salaried for are not as harsh and conditions improved.

    However, the self made man these days is less likely also, as theirs not that much room in the marketplace for too much new business. Despite how the American dream is sold to us, it still takes capital to start a business. There are not the opportunities to go from selling sweets to owning a sweetshop as much as some would have you believe.

    How can everyone be a boss in a world where every type of business is saturated with competition? It’s not a reflection on the current administration, it’s simply changing times, easier lives and a relatively decent standard of living which means many are ok as they are.

  9. I think entrepreneurship is alive and well. Because of the high unemployment rate more people are trying to do their own thing and make a comfortable living. I started putting all my time into my business after being laid off from Bank of American and I have now been running it for almost 5 years. My wife recently started her own public relations company.

  10. I definitely agree that it seems like it's slowing down and it could be the fact that it's so expensive to go it on your own and own a business, and if it doesn't work out and your business goes under which it may in this bad economy, well, you might have to go bankrupt. I think lots of people are just scared of all the risks involved these days and so they opt for a more secure job as an employee.

  11. I feel the opposite is true. Entrepeneurship is becoming a must for people because steady jobs are scarce. More and more people I know have one or two "side jobs" on top of their regular job, just in case. It would seem to me that this scared economy is creating more and more innovative ways to make money, and hence, more entrepeneurs.

    Though, I have not read any reports on actual numbers, so I could be totally wrong 😉

  12. I think it's very hard to make it as an entrepeneur. I had neighbours (husband and wife) who both started their own business (2 separate ones). They both eventually went under.

  13. I am a former entrepreneur (income property, restaurant, catering, consulting) and now entering into blogging. I was successful and achieved financial freedom when I was 38 years old.

  14. The combination of regulations that make it difficult to start a business and the financial crisis has definitely hurt entrepreneurship on a large scale, but I think there are some people who are getting creative and exploring new areas. I have a friend who has a social media consulting company and they are thriving. Was just started 2 years ago and I believe they are at 10+ employees and their work has been pretty in-demand.

  15. I think that the current business climate isn't favourable to entrepreneurs. With globalization and mega corporations offering specialized services in every area, starting a small business that could realistically compete with those giants is becoming more and more difficult (tech start ups aside).

  16. Eddie

    What's a successful entrepreneur?
    I think that's an open ended question, because success is not defined by money. I'm an entrepreneur online and offline, and still carry a FT job, do I consider my self successful? Yes, because I'm able to do something online/offline and earn extra cash. Will I be able to retire at this pace of entrepreneurship? Nope, however I'm not pushing my self either. I still want to have a life.

    Great post though w/good food for thought!

  17. I'll agree that the life of an entrepreneur is difficult and not for everybody. It can be a bear! When there are down economies you see new businesses sprout up all over the place, so I think entrepreneurship is alive and well.

  18. I couldn't tell you if Its dying or rising - I guess I'd need to see some statistics to believe one way or the other. In defense of it dying, I would blame big corporations for running out the little guy. In the small town where my wife works, I've watched local hardware shops, appliance shops, and restaurants go belly up due to Home Depot, Best Buy and Applebees moving in. Service is also going that way. How may people know a real "handy-man" they can call on to fix their dishwasher or car when it breaks? Instead, you have to call the company, schedule service with them, and then get charged an arm and leg. There are many places where I feel like the barriers to entry are getting bigger and bigger. But then take something as simple as this blog, and a regular guy like me can start a business on the side. So some opportunities may exist if you know where to look for them.

  19. I think it actually seems to be on the rise. Many people, like me, kind of forced into it by being laid off. While I'd love to go back to full time, there are some great benefits of working for yourself. The bad part is you are married to your job 24/7 because whenever you aren't working, you will be thinking of how you can get more work.

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  21. I heard a really fascinating story on NPR a few weeks ago about how tech entrepreneurship is struggling because of the extremely onerous patent laws in the United States. Patent law is extremely complex, but basically most patent laws were designed to protect people who invented a tangible THING as opposed to an idea or functionality (like, for example, the "buy with one click" feature on Amazon's website). So, people are patenting these very broad ideas, which is discouraging young innovators from trying to invent something that's even slightly similar to an existing technology.

    It was a great story and really got me thinking about how the law has not even come close to keeping up with technology.

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  31. Bill

    People are realizing that it is a lot harder to be an entrepreneur than it is made out to be. Health insurance and other costs make it hard to be a self-employed person today.

  32. Jackie

    I can't say whether more or less people are trying to become an entrepreneur because I haven't read up on the subject. However, I can say I'd expect a decline because, money isn't the same anymore. Back in the day a 25 year old would maybe have a few thousand dollars in credit card card debt. Now, you can be $100,000 in debt easy by the time your 25 years old because of student loans and possibly even a mortgage. Thus, backing yourself into a corner making it near impossible to invest in yourself or a business.

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