Entrepreneurs are optimistic about succeeding but say the government could do more to help small businesses, according to a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The Kauffman Foundation presented the 2018 State of Entrepreneurship address on Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. CEO Wendy Guillies said the foundation would continue its efforts to remove barriers to business creation, based on the results of a survey of 2,165 entrepreneurs nationwide in January and February.
The majority of entrepreneurs surveyed were very optimistic about business performance in 2018. However, results were more tempered when asked about the current business environment. Of surveyed businesses five years or older, 41 percent said it is harder now to start a business than it was five years ago.
Guillies highlighted three areas where entrepreneurs said they struggle: licensing and taxes, benefits for employees, and networking with other entrepreneurs.
According to the survey, entrepreneurs had difficulty with the technical steps of opening a business. They indicated that they would like the government to support a business-friendly environment — and not just for large corporations. The majority of both new and established business (more than five years old) owners said they thought government policies favored big business over small business. Startup leaders want the government to prioritize their needs and indicated that the government resources available don’t align with their needs. Survey respondents indicated streamlining taxes and regulations would have a positive effect.
The strength of networks was another challenge for certain entrepreneurs. Younger businesses have a smaller network of entrepreneurs to look to for guidance, the survey revealed. For entrepreneurs of color, the situation was quite stark — the survey indicated among first-year startup founders, 26 percent of black founders and 24 percent of Hispanic founders have one or zero other business owners in their networks.
During the address, the Kauffman Foundation announced initiatives to help entrepreneurs grow. It plans to expand its weekly 1 Million Cups networking event to hundreds of new cities across the country. In addition, the foundation is creating an online platform for entrepreneurs to connect with each other and mentors.
Last year, the foundation hosted an ESHIP Summit to “convene ecosystem builders” and learn best practices for promoting entrepreneurship in communities. A second summit will take place this summer.
“We’re also selecting several ESHIP communities across the country that will serve as sites for testing and learning,” said Victor Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. Participants will help to develop information for future ESHIP Summits, Hwang said.
The foundation also said that it had removed a cost barrier by offering its FastTrac entrepreneurship class for free online.
Ongoing initiatives for the foundation, Hwang said, will be increasing inclusion among entrepreneurial communities and connecting diverse entrepreneurs with funding.
For more on the State of Entrepreneurship, watch the speech below: