Entrepreneurship hits new high in 2012

U.S. entrepreneurship during 2012 climbed to its highest level in more than a decade, according to a report released Wednesday from Babson College and Baruch College.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that 12.8 percent of the U.S. adult population is engaged in entrepreneurship. The report tracks entrepreneurial activity, from those in the preliminary steps of launching a business to owners of new businesses that have been operating for up to three-and-a-half years.

The study began in 1999, when it measured entrepreneurship at 8.4 percent. The measure bottomed at 7.6 percent in 2010 due to the lingering impact of the recession, but has been rising as the economy improves. Last year it came in at 12.3 percent.

In an upbeat note, about 75 percent of people starting a business are doing so to pursue an opportunity rather than out of necessity, the report found.

"Despite a sluggish economy, 2012 was marked by U.S. entrepreneurs reporting greater optimism and confidence in their abilities to start new businesses," Donna Kelley, the lead author of the report and associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, said in a statement.

But the study was not all good news. The fear of failure continues to inch up since the recession hit, a risk that may keep some from launching their own ventures. The survey found that one-third of those who said that they see business opportunities felt constrained by fear of failure in 2012, compared to one-quarter in 2008.

Entrepreneurs were diverse in age, gender and immigration status but shared many common characteristics. About two-thirds of entrepreneurs start their business at home. And more than 80 percent used personal funds and money from family, friend and others close to start their business. The report says entrepreneurs in the U.S. needed a median of $15,000 to start their business.

The report surveys individuals in 69 countries.

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