The Top Reason Americans Start Their Own Business? Not Money

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Nearly two-thirds of workers — 62% — would prefer to be their own boss instead of working for someone else, according to a recent Shopify-Gallup Entrepreneurship study.

But why are so many Americans attracted to entrepreneurship?

Several factors drive the desire. And somewhat surprisingly, money is not the chief reason.

The Gallup survey polled more than 6,900 business owners and over 4,000 people who said they have seriously considered owning their own business. Respondents said the following were among the most important reasons they decided to start a business.

Desire to be their own boss

Businesswoman opening her business for the day
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Respondents who own a business and cited this as a top reason: 57%

Respondents who have seriously considered starting a business and cited this as a top reason: 60%

The desire to be the boss is so strong in these folks that 52% say they would be willing to take on at least a fair amount of financial risk if the upside meant they could run the show.

In addition, 70% of these respondents have a high tolerance for risk, which is an important quality for those who dare to start their own business.

Wanted an opportunity to earn more money

Senior woman and small business owner working on a tablet in her art studio making her hobby a business
pikselstock / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who own a business and cited this as a top reason: 54%

Respondents who have seriously considered starting a business and cited this as a top reason: 60%

Many assume that money motivates people to start businesses. And it’s clearly important, with more than half of entrepreneurs acknowledging gaining wealth as a primary reason they went solo.

However, the desire for riches still finishes second to the motivation of becoming your own boss.

Desire for a flexible work schedule

A black man in business attire works on a laptop computer at his desk
Flamingo Images / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who own a business and cited this as a top reason: 42%

Respondents who have seriously considered starting a business and cited this as a top reason: 45%

Many entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs cite a more flexible work schedule as an important factor behind their decision to leave employee life behind. However, this feeling is especially pronounced among women.

More than half of women — 52% — said a flexible schedule is a major reason for wanting to start a business. Just 38% of men say the same.

Other important reasons for starting a business

small business owner open door
Follow Focus / Shutterstock.com

There are many other reasons that people either start a small business or dream of it. They include:

  • Want to pursue a passion project: Cited by 30% of business owners / 45% of aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Hope to fill a need in the market for a specific product or service: 23% / 20%
  • Desire to make a positive impact or change in the world: 19% / 36%
  • Encouraged by someone to start a business: 15% / NA
  • Wish to leave the corporate world: 15% / 22%
  • Family or generational expectations: 14% / 16%
  • Desire to support the community: 11% / 24%
  • Acquaintance wanted to become a business partner: 10% / 10%
  • Laid off from a previous job: 9% / NA
  • Concern about job becoming obsolete due to technology: 3% / 9%
  • Lack of happiness in current job: NA / 19%
  • Friend or family member wanted to partner in a business: NA / 10%

If you dream of starting your own business, check out “11 Cheap Business Ideas You Can Start for Less Than $1,000.”

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