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Research Shows 41 Percent of Teens Would Consider Starting Business as Career Option

Nov 6, 2019 | Monitor

ANCHORAGE—New research from Junior Achievement (JA) and Ernst & Young (EY) shows that 41 percent of teens would consider entrepreneurship as a career option, versus working in a traditional job. At the same time, 61 percent of teen girls have thought about starting a business, compared to 54 percent of boys. Additionally, 6 percent of teen boys have already started a business, while 4 percent of girls have done the same. The survey of 1,000 teens, conducted by Wakefield Research, has a margin of +/- 3.1 percent. The teen survey, and a companion one of adult entrepreneurs, supports JA Launch Lesson, an initiative to bring entrepreneurs into high school classrooms across the United States during National Entrepreneurship Month in November 2018.

A similar survey of 500 adult entrepreneurs found that 13 percent started their first business at the age of eighteen or younger, though the average age entrepreneurs tend to start their first business is twenty-eight. “Fear of Failure” is a prime concern of 67 percent of teens, who say it might stop them from starting a business. It was also a top concern of 65 percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed, 92 percent of whom say their businesses have turned a profit. To help guide them through their startup journeys, 36 percent of entrepreneurs have sought advice from current or former colleagues, while 32 percent have had an entrepreneurial mentor.

“This research is encouraging in that it shows many teens have a great interest in starting their own business someday, but that the risks associated with entrepreneurship are a major concern for them,” said Flora Teo, President of Junior Achievement of Alaska. “Young people need more information and role models to help them better understand what’s involved in starting a business and give them the confidence they need to pursue their dreams. That’s one of the reasons we at JA feel so fortunate to be partnering with EY on JA Launch Lesson.”

Locally, Junior Achievement of Alaska will be implementing JA Launch Lessons at Wendler Middle School during lunch. These Power Hour lunches will feature a different Alaska entrepreneur each week and will provide students the unique opportunity to ask questions and interact with local business leaders. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend the JA Happy Hour at Double Shovel Cider Co., where JA staff and board members will be celebrating local entrepreneurs.

The JA Launch Lesson is an hour-long educational experience built around the theme of entrepreneurship that creates a point-of-entry for students, volunteers, and educators. It is delivered locally by entrepreneurs in classrooms, after-school facilities, and other student venues around the United States during National Entrepreneurship Month in November. With the support of EY, JA Launch Lesson reached nearly 80,000 high school students last year. For more information, go to www.JA.org/Launch.

“It is exciting to see the high percentage of students who aspire to be entrepreneurs. It’s especially encouraging that so many teen girls have an eye toward starting a business,” said Gary Kozlowski, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, who leads a network of EY leaders serving on fifty-seven local JA boards across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. “EY values inclusive leadership and celebrates the importance of entrepreneurship to our economies. We look forward to mentoring even more current and future entrepreneurs through the JA Launch Lessons program as we work toward our purpose of building a better working world.”

Additional findings from the surveys include:

  • 69 percent of teens say they have a business idea but are unsure of how to start the process.


  • 78 percent of entrepreneurs say work experience is more helpful than a college degree when it comes to starting a business (only 53 percent of teens agree).


  • 75 percent of entrepreneurs say “Motivation” is an essential characteristic to have, among traits that were found most helpful when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur.


When asked, the entrepreneurs also had some advice for prospective young businesspeople which followed their message of being motivated and passionate. They wrote, “Don’t let anything get in your way,” “Do something you love,” “Be true to yourself,” and “Be afraid of nothing.”

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