Any young budding entrepreneur who starts their own business is often reminded about a bleak statistic that more or less remains constant each year: that around 90% of startups fail. And if starting up a new venture during a global pandemic wasn’t hard enough, young businesspeople also feel their age is yet another obstacle they need to overcome in order to be successful. That’s according to a survey of more than 25,000 respondents (age 18–40) across 35 countries commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition and conducted by OnePoll, which found that 62% of young entreprenuers in the United States fear that their age hinders them when trying to launch their own businesses.

Marylanders, however, feel even more strongly about this – 65% here worry they won’t be taken seriously when starting a business because of their youth. 

Despite this, it appears that many view these challenges as opportunities on the path to success, rather than obstacles that can’t be overcome. When asked why, 59% said they’re better at adapting to new technology than other generations, and 42% said they’re more likely to have fresh, unexplored ideas. Moreover, the survey also found 30% of those who want to open a business said they’re “less afraid to fail” than other generations. 

However, the majority of respondents agreed that gaining valuable experience in business for a few years before starting their own would be beneficial, with Americans believing the best age to start a business is 30 years old (compared to a global average of 28). Indeed, the survey found that 74% of young adults are hesitant to start a new business as they feel intimidated by their lack of experience. The average American said they believe someone should have seven years of experience before starting their own business.

When it comes to industries, 45% of young Marylanders would like to launch businesses in the food service industry, presumably on the back of a growing trend for producing sustainable foods that are less harmful to the environment. In second place was starting up in the clothing/apparel industry (38%), perhaps launching their own fashion labels.  This was followed by wellness + fitness (32%); professional services (31%); technology (26%); trade (24%) and education (19%).

Other interesting statistics revealed from the global survey:

  • Seventy-four percent of young respondents have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
  • Of those Americans interested in entrepreneurship, “becoming my own boss” was found to be the top motivating factor (38%), followed by the ability to follow their passion (35%).
  • More than three in 10 global respondents said they were looking to support their family (37%) or wanted more flexibility in their job (32%).
  • 31% look toward entrepreneurship as the opportunity for a career change, while 26% were looking to supplement their income after their job hours were reduced — for many, likely a result of the ongoing pandemic.
  • For those who have been employed previously, who are now interested in entrepreneurship, 60% said one of the reasons was because they’re tired of being told “no” by older employees and managers.
  • The same number (60%) didn’t feel like their ideas were taken into account in previous roles.

View these results in this infographic

“If working with entrepreneurs over the past 41 years has taught us anything, it’s that regardless of your age, the difference between success and failure is often good business fundamentals, the willingness to learn, adapt and work hard, and a passion for your work,” said John DeSimone, president of Herbalife Nutrition. “There’s no time like the present.”

Results also found that 63% believe their generation faces unique challenges when starting a business, compared to older generations.

“As young entrepreneurs learn how to manage the daily rigors of starting their own business, it’s imperative to surround themselves with a supportive community including mentors and those who will continuously push them to the next level,” DeSimone added.


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