If you've ever dreamed of starting your own business, 2014 might just be the year to do it. A recent survey of new business owners indicates that the future is finally looking brighter for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The survey — conducted by the Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan organization, and LegalZoom, an online legal resource for individuals and businesses — indicates that entrepreneurs may have an easier time getting businesses off the ground in the New Year than they have in years past.
While the struggling economy still poses some challenges for aspiring entrepreneurs, the survey suggests that certain barriers to success are finally starting to lift. Sixty-three percent of new business owners surveyed in 2013 said they encountered setbacks in getting their businesses off the ground, but only 28 percent of those owners cited a lack of access to credit as a reason for their bumpy starts. This marks a major improvement from 2012, when 45 percent of new business owners named lack of credit as their biggest obstacle. [20 Great Small Business Ideas for 2014]
New business owners also cited the unpredictable nature of the economy as a setback in 2013, but this obstacle seems to be diminishing, too. While 45 percent of new business owners said the struggling economy was the biggest thing holding them back in 2012, only 36 percent of respondents listed the economy as a setback in 2013.
The survey also found that 2013's new business owners were more willing than their predecessors to part with personal savings. Last year, 86 percent of entrepreneurs used their own money to get new ventures off the ground, the survey showed. That represents a 20 percent increase from 2012 in the use of personal investments for new businesses — a figure the survey's creators say might indicate a broader, economy-wide shift from savings to investment.
"Few actions correlate more directly with economic confidence than personal investment," said John Suh, CEO of LegalZoom, in a press release outlining the new survey. "Investing personal savings to start a business when credit is readily available signals high conviction in the future."
The survey also found that small businesses may once again be creating new jobs, with the number of businesses employing one to four people increasing from 25 percent in 2012 to 26.5 percent in 2013. This increase in jobs coincides with an increase in revenue over the past year, as the number of small businesses with revenues exceeding $100,000 a year grew by four percentage points last year alone (from 8 percent of all businesses surveyed in 2012 to 12 percent in 2013).
Dane Strangler, vice president of research at the Kauffman Foundation, said that this growth in revenue may be an indication that the economy in general is slowly but surely coming around.
"Entrepreneurs are on the economy's front lines daily," said Strangler in a recent statement regarding the 2013 survey. "The fact that the survey shows small, positive growth among these companies suggests that economic recovery may be gaining vibrancy on a broader scale, as well."
The survey also found that more women became new business owners in 2013 than in years past. Thirty-five percent of new business owners in 2013 were female, a 4 percentage point increase from 2012. More of last year's business founders were first-time business owners, as well, the survey found. In 2012, 44.7 percent of respondents had previously embarked on a business venture, compared to 41.4 percent in 2013.