The report goes on to state, “Despite a sluggish economy, 2012 was marked by U.S. entrepreneurs reporting greater optimism and confidence in their abilities to start new businesses,” commented the GEM Report’s lead author, Donna J. Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College. “In fact, nearly 13 percent of the U.S. adult population was engaged in entrepreneurship with the vast majority starting businesses to pursue an opportunity rather than out of necessity."
The new entrepreneurs are both highly diverse and optimistic.
A diverse population - With 13 percent of the U.S. adult population engaged in entrepreneurship, GEM found remarkable diversity in age, gender and immigrant status among U.S. entrepreneurs.
There are seven women for every 10 men engaged in entrepreneurship in the U.S.
Entrepreneurship is not age specific; it attracts everyone from youth to seniors. Regardless of the age group, when workforce participation rates are taken into account, approximately 15-20 percent of adults in the workforce in each age group are engaged in entrepreneurship.
First-generation immigrants are highly entrepreneurial: more than 16 percent of first-generation immigrants were starting and running new businesses in 2012, compared to 13 percent of nonimmigrants.
Highly optimistic - Americans believe there are good opportunities for starting businesses and that they have the capabilities to start a business.
More than 43 percent of Americans believe there are good opportunities for entrepreneurship, a more than 20 percent jump from 2011 and the highest level recorded since GEM launched in 1999.
56 percent of Americans believe they have the capabilities to start a business – a figure that has remained remarkably stable over the past five years despite severe economic volatility.
While opportunity perceptions are relatively uniform across the age spectrum, youth and seniors are starting businesses despite lower beliefs in their capabilities in these age groups compared to middle age groups. Additionally, youth start with very little funding.
Approximately three-quarters of entrepreneurs start businesses to pursue an opportunity rather than out of necessity.