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Owning a Business: The New American Dream?

Owning a Business: The New American Dream?
Credit: phloxii/Shutterstock

Americans are becoming less enthusiastic about climbing the corporate ladder, and many would prefer to be their own boss, new research finds.

In fact, half of working adults in the United States either currently own or want to own their own businesses, according to a recent study from the University of Phoenix School of Business. Among those who don't currently own a business, nearly 40 percent hope to do so in the future.

The research shows that age plays a significant role in the desire to become an entrepreneur. Specifically, 52 percent of workers in their 20s have their eyes set on owning a business one day, whereas 50 percent of workers in their 30s and 35 percent of workers in their 40s have the same aspirations.

Conversely, just 26 percent of workers in their 50s and 17 percent of workers over age 60 want to own a business in the future.

Despite their desires, there are a number of factors preventing would-be entrepreneurs from taking the plunge. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed who want to own a business said a lack of adequate finances is preventing them from doing so. Other top barriers include inadequate knowledge of how to run a business, not having the right idea or concept, a lack of time and not having the necessary leadership skills.

Michael Bevis, director of academic affairs for the University of Phoenix, said that starting a business can be an exciting and fulfilling pursuit, but it requires significant planning, resources and business knowledge.

"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," Bevis said in a statement. [101 Reasons Being an Entrepreneur Is Awesome]

Bevis offered several recommendations for individuals who want to start their own businesses:

  • 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 study found that if those surveyed do get the chance to own their own business, they plan on running things much differently than their current employer does. Overall, more than three-quarters of all working adults identified things that they would do differently if they were in charge of their workplaces.

Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they 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. In addition, 27 percent would rely more on teamwork and collaboration.

The study was based on surveys of 1,138 U.S. adults age 18 or older who are full-time workers, part-time workers or self-employed.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.