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Older Entrepreneurs Own Half of U.S. Small Businesses, Bootstrap With Personal Savings, Credit Cards and Retirement Funds

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2021 – People age 55+ make up 21% of the U.S. population, but own a disproportionately high 50.9% of U.S. small businesses, according to new survey data from 3,000 entrepreneurs published by SCORE, mentors to America’s small businesses.

The Megaphone of Main Street: Unsung Entrepreneurs data report quotes one encore entrepreneur who explained: “I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. I am an industry expert and this is a chance to put my 25+ years of experience to the test...I know I’m up for it!”

Survey data reveals that encore entrepreneurs have an easier time securing business financing than younger entrepreneurs, but often choose not to use it. Encores were up to 62% more likely to receive non-government aid and 20-46% more likely to be approved for government aid, including PPP loans, unemployment insurance and other sources of federal/state financial assistance, compared to younger business owners.

Instead of capitalizing on these funding opportunities, many prefer to rely on personal finances, including savings (74% of encore entrepreneurs) and credit cards (36.6%). They are also 52.3% more likely to finance their business using retirement savings, compared to younger groups.

An encore entrepreneur commented: “I never borrow outside money. I only rely on customer sales to expand business. I do not want access to easy money because I don’t want to owe anyone. To me, debt means you are working for someone else and feels like a burden.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has created extremely challenging conditions for U.S. small business owners, with nearly 72% of encore entrepreneurs feeling unsupported by local government and less than half (48.9%) feeling supported by their local communities.


encore entrepreneur infographic

Click here to access the full Megaphone of Main Street: Unsung Entrepreneurs for additional data on the challenges and opportunities facing encore entrepreneurs, with additional reporting on veteran-owned and immigrant-owned small businesses.

Since 1964, SCORE has helped 11 million entrepreneurs to start, grow or troubleshoot a business. SCORE's 10,000 volunteers provide free mentoring, workshops and educational services to 1,500+ communities nationwide, creating 45,027 new businesses and 74,535 non-owner jobs in 2020 alone. Visit SCORE at Follow @SCOREMentors on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn

Funded [in part] through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.







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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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