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Survey: Half want to own their own business

Half (50 percent) of working adults in the U.S. either currently own or want to own their own businesses, according to a new national University of Phoenix School of Business survey. Of working Americans who do not currently own a business, nearly two in five (39 percent) hope to do so in the future.

Age makes a significant difference as nearly half (52 percent) of workers in their 20s who do not currently own a business hope to do so in the future, followed by 50 percent of workers in their 30s and 35 percent in their 40s. Second careering may also lead some workers to consider entrepreneurship later in their careers. In fact, more than a quarter (26 percent) of workers in their 50s and 17 percent of workers age 60 or older who do not own a business, want to do so in the future.

The recent online survey of more than 1,000 working adults in the U.S. was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix School of Business by Harris Poll in July 2014.

University of Phoenix School of Business is hosting more than 40 events nationwide in August to help prospective and current entrepreneurs learn how to launch and sustain successful businesses. More information about the events and locations can be found at www.phoenix.edu/thinkbig.

Barriers to business ownership

Why haven’t more American workers started their own businesses? According to the survey, the top barrier for working adults who want to own their own businesses is a lack of adequate finances (67 percent). Prospective business owners also say they are held back because they need more education or training (33 percent), do not know enough about running a business (32 percent), have not found the right idea or concept (30 percent), do not have the time (22 percent) and need to develop leadership skills (17 percent).

“Starting your own business can be an exciting and fulfilling pursuit, but requires significant planning, resources and business knowledge,” said Michael Bevis, director of Academic Affairs for University of Phoenix and faculty member for the School of Business. “Many potential entrepreneurs have great ideas and a strong understanding of specific industries, but often do not have the business background to turn concepts into profitable ventures. Business education can help entrepreneurs fill knowledge gaps and strengthen business acumen.”

If you were the boss

More than three quarters (76 percent) of all working adults identify things that they would do differently if they were in charge of their workplaces. For example, 37 percent would provide more training and education opportunities for employees, 35 percent would hire better-qualified employees and 32 percent would create more flexible work environments, such as offering flex hours or the option to work from home. Twenty-seven percent say they would rely more on teamwork and collaboration. The majority of working adults say they would be or are great bosses, with 85 percent of self-employed adults and 76 percent of workers who are not self-employed indicating this.

Career stagnancy and being entrepreneurial in your own career

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all working adults say they currently have limited opportunities within their companies. That said, many workers also admit that they may need to be more proactive in managing their own careers. More than half (53 percent) of working adults say they should be more entrepreneurial in their careers. Notably, even those well into their careers express an interest in being more entrepreneurial, specifically 47 percent of those in their 40s, 46 percent of those in their 50s and 43 percent who are 60 or older. Two in five (40 percent) working adults have not set career goals for themselves.

“Being entrepreneurial does not just mean starting your own company; it is also about approaching your existing career with purpose,” added Bevis. “Do not rely on your employer to manage your career. Setting career goals, developing a strong personal brand and constantly looking for ways to grow and tie your responsibilities to the company’s bottom line can help you succeed and feel more engaged in your career.”

Bevis offers the following recommendations for individuals who want to start businesses or be more entrepreneurial in their careers:

Tips for owning your own business

* Start with a business idea that not only fulfills specific customer needs, but has enough market demand. Support your idea through market research, competitive intelligence and target audience assessment.
* Identify your target audiences, understand what motivates them to act and learn how to grow long-term relationships with your customers.
* Create a business plan and use it to set priorities, address gaps and lay out your growth strategy.
* Financial planning can be one of the most challenging aspects for business owners who are not trained in this area. Consider additional education or plan for resources to address financial planning and management.
* Develop an organization and management structure so your company is poised for growth.
* Do not operate in a vacuum – network and learn from other successful entrepreneurs.

The Small Business Administration website offers a variety of business plan templates at www.sba.gov.

Tips for being more entrepreneurial in your career

* Be knowledgeable about your organization, industry and career growth opportunities.
* Think like a marketer. Develop a strategic business plan to grow and improve your personal brand within your organization. Start with a mission statement. Other areas to consider include: audience assessment; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis; points of differentiation; promotion strategy; and ongoing personal development.
* Keep your personal brand current and sustainable by knowing how your skills and experience fit into the big picture of your organization.
* Network and engage with individuals who have diverse experiences.
* Identify and engage with a mentor. This individual does not necessarily have to be in your own company. Find someone who you admire professionally and whose success mirrors your goals.
* Identify and engage with a sponsor in your own company. This person can champion your success and advocate for your growth within the company.

University of Phoenix School of Business offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs with specializations across a wide range of business disciplines, including entrepreneurship, marketing, human resources and finance. For more information about University of Phoenix School of Business degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu.

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