2020 Study

The State of Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

In partnership with Ipsos, SecondMuse launches research of more than 200 U.S. entrepreneurs amid the global pandemic and national movement for racial justice.

October 13, 2020

 

In partnership with Ipsos, SecondMuse launches “The State of Entrepreneurship in the U.S.” This inaugural study explores qualitative and quantitative research of more than 200 U.S. entrepreneurs. It was conducted over the past two months amid the global pandemic and national movement for racial justice. 

It finds that, despite a strong desire for racial equity and a level playing field, respondents overwhelmingly believe the U.S. economic system favors entrepreneurs from certain geographies and backgrounds at the expense of broad swaths of Americans. Entrepreneurs, even those who are being advantaged, are calling on government officials, local leaders, and funders to reorient their support for entrepreneurs and to support resources and regulations that will ensure their local economies and communities thrive.

LITTLE TRUST IN THE U.S. ECONOMIC SYSTEM

The United States has long been known as a place of innovation, where entrepreneurs are free to experiment and drive their visions to fruition. The ongoing global reckoning around racial justice and inclusion has poked holes in this reputation and exposed glaring disparities between individuals’ opportunities in the U.S.

Despite burgeoning efforts to address the disadvantages historically marginalized groups continue to face, just 17% of study respondents describe the current economic system as “inclusive.” More than a quarter describe it as “racist”, and nearly a third see it as “corrupt.” The overwhelming majority, 72%, believe the U.S. economic system creates an uneven playing field.

BARRIERS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP: BACKGROUND AND GEOGRAPHY

Restoring trust in the economic system is crucial for American innovation. Study results point to areas where mistrust is most pronounced and where work to restore it can begin. More than half of surveyed entrepreneurs believe that women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) face entrepreneurship barriers.

An even greater percentage of respondents believe it is more difficult for immigrants, the less wealthy, less educated, and those who live in certain geographic regions to become entrepreneurs.

COVID-19 CRISIS: AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE A MORE INCLUSIVE SYSTEM

Despite their clear negative outlook on the current system, nearly 7 out of 10 respondents see the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to reform the economy. What they want is clear: Nearly 60% named “racial equality” as their top concern, and nearly 70% agree that more should be done to make the economy more inclusive.

When we asked respondents if they supported an “economy of the future,” one that focuses on building economic resilience through inclusivity and engagement with local communities, more than 8 out of 10 said they agreed. 

A CALL FOR SUPPORT AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

The survey also guides where the work to build a more inclusive system can begin. A staggering 89% believe local, community-level coordination is essential to entrepreneurial success, yet nearly half of surveyed entrepreneurs believe it is currently hard to secure local resources for their business. Above all, they expressed needs for capital/cash flow, followed by education and policy/government measures.

This suggests that leaders, officials, and funders operating at the community level are in a prime position to support entrepreneurs, particularly those from historically underserved communities, and restore faith in the U.S. economy.

Download the State of Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

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