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Unsung Entrepreneurs
The Megaphone of Main Street
Unsung Entrepreneurs

Three groups of entrepreneurs consistently outperform others as engines for the small business economy. Despite higher startup and operation rates, these groups are often overlooked and face greater obstacles to success.

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These distinct “unsung entrepreneurs” are first-generation or immigrant entrepreneurs, veteran entrepreneurs and encore entrepreneurs (those age 55 and older). In this installment of SCORE’s Megaphone of Main Street, we pay special attention to “unsung entrepreneurs” as critical representatives of the current U.S. small business landscape.

Key research findings include:

Part 1: Immigrant Entreprenuers

  • Even amidst COVID-19 turbulence, immigrants are 40.2% more likely to start a business and are more optimistic about hiring new employees than others.
  • Unlike other groups, immigrant entrepreneurs cite job discrimination 52.6% more often as a motivating factor to start their own businesses.
  • Forty-three percent of immigrant business owners are concerned about finding financing: a rate that is 36.1% higher than non-immigrant business owners.
  • Immigrant business owners report their top strengths are their work ethic/discipline and confidence. With more frequent language and cultural barriers, immigrant entrepreneurs are 16.9% less likely to consider their communication skills as a core strength. Likewise, they are 19.1% more likely to cite education and 18.1% more likely to cite personal coaching as helpful to their businesses.
  • Because they often have little access to credit or lenders, immigrant business owners tap into personal finances and credit cards and are 45.1% more likely to utilize loans from friends and family to support their businesses.
  • Immigrant business owners are generally much more likely to seek all forms of financial support and much less likely to receive it. They were rejected 72-83.5% more often when seeking expanded lines of credit, crowdfunding, new investors, support from online lenders and veteran loans.
  • Immigrant business owners are much more likely than non-immigrant business owners to apply for all forms of government support. Yet, they are significantly less likely to receive the full amount they request from any source. Half to three-quarters of immigrant business owners surveyed feel no support from their federal, state or local government.

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Part 2: Veteran Entreprenuers

  • Veterans are 35.4% more likely to start their businesses as a supplement to their primary income.
  • Nearly 42% of the veteran business owners surveyed have a service-related disability. Many note the obstacles they face due to disability or bias.
  • Veteran business owners have significantly more concerns than non-veterans. They are twice as concerned about business regulations, 25.9% more concerned about their lack of connections, 23.3% more concerned about financing, and 14.9% more concerned about getting customers than non-veterans.
  • Many veterans feel the military prepared them well for small business leadership. They report
    their greatest strengths are their hard work (75.6%) and leadership skills (57.7%).
  • Strikingly, veterans tap into personal savings at a rate that is 11.1% greater than non-veteran business owners and were more likely to apply for business credit cards at a rate that is 26.3% greater than non-veterans.
  •  Veteran entrepreneurs feel less supported by every level of government (federal, state, local) at a rate that is 10-21% higher than non-veterans.
  • Veteran business owners asked for Small Business Administration (SBA), federal and state
    COVID-relief funds at about the same rate as other groups. When they did ask, their requests
    were denied 20-100% more frequently than non-veteran business owners.
  • Online lenders approved veteran requests for funding twice as often than non-veterans.

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Part 3: Encore (55+) Entreprenuers

  • Compared to younger business owners, encore entrepreneurs are 29.8% more likely to use their businesses for supplemental income and are 25.3% less likely to cite financial independence as a motivator.
  • Dealing with new technology is a much higher concern (22% higher) for older (versus younger)
    business owners. On the other hand, they worry less about customers, cash flow or connections.
  • Age and experience pay off, as encore entrepreneurs are 25.1% more likely to cite their skills in effective business planning as a strength compared to younger business owners.
  • Nearly 71.8% of encore entrepreneurs feel they have not been supported by their local government, while 65.5% feel no support from their state. Less than half (48.9%) reported feeling local community support or support from the federal government (47.8%).
  • Encore entrepreneurs finance their business with retirement savings 52.3% more often than
    younger groups. With this self-sufficiency, they less often use personal savings, personal credit
    cards or loans from friends/family.
  • Encore entrepreneurs are less likely to seek financial help or accrue debt from any source. Yet,
    when they ask, they are 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. 

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press release
Immigrant Entrepreneurs 40 Percent More Likely to Start Small Businesses

Immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. are 40% more likely to start their own businesses than native-born individuals, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute. Immigrants' unique skills and perspectives are beneficial for entrepreneurship and their contribution to small business growth should be valued.

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Veterans Business
press release
Veteran Small Business Owners Face Declining Startup Rates and Service-Related Disabilities

A report by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy reveals that while veterans are more likely to own small businesses than non-veterans, their share of small business ownership is declining. The report also highlights service-related disabilities and health conditions as top challenges that veteran small business owners face.

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

A report by the Small Business Administration shows that half of all small businesses in the U.S. are owned by entrepreneurs aged 50 or older who fund their ventures through personal savings and credit cards. The report suggests that this trend will continue as the population ages and retirement becomes less secure.

View Press Release
View All Data Reports in the Megaphone of Main Street Series

The Megaphone of Main Street data report series by SCORE provides insights into small business trends and challenges in the United States. The reports cover a range of topics such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses, financial management strategies, and marketing tactics. The data is collected through surveys of small business owners, providing valuable information for entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other stakeholders interested in the success of small businesses.

View all reports

For More Information

To speak with SCORE’s media relations team or request an interview with executive staff, expert business mentors or small business clients, please email Visit our Media Resources for data reports, FAQs and more.

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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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