New Manta Survey Reveals Demographic Profile of Today’s Small Business Owners

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Manta’s inaugural survey highlights generational and gender differences among entrepreneurs

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“Our first Small Business Owner Demographic Profile offers unique insight into the characteristics of small business owners as well as how preferences, business habits and motivation differs among our respondents," said John Swanciger, CEO of Manta.

Manta, one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business, today released its inaugural Small Business Owner Demographic Profile, the result of an analysis of 4,600 American small business owners.

“Since small businesses account for over 99 percent of today's employers, it's critical to understand exactly who is driving the U.S. economy forward,” said John Swanciger, CEO of Manta. “Our first Small Business Owner Demographic Profile offers unique insight into the characteristics of small business owners as well as how preferences, business habits and motivation differs among our respondents."

Per Manta’s analysis, men are overwhelmingly in the majority, making up 64 percent of today’s small business owners compared to the 36 percent of respondents who identified as female.

According to the results, baby boomers make up the largest portion (38 percent) of today’s small business owners, followed closely by Generation X (32 percent) and millennials (24 percent). Interestingly, nearly half (48 percent) of all business owners founded their companies under the age of 40.

As for owners’ educational backgrounds, Manta found that one-third of American small business owners are college graduates, while 17 percent earned graduate degrees and 26 percent have some college education.

Thirty-one percent of respondents started their business because they were passionate about their company, while 27 percent were driven by the prospect of being their own boss.

Entrepreneurial Habits Differ by Age
With a relatively even split across generations, Manta investigated how age impacts the habits and preferences of small business owners. As it turns out, generation proved to be one of the biggest dividing factors, according to Manta’s analysis.

Women small business owners are more common in younger generations compared to their older counterparts, with 43 percent of millennial respondents identifying as female in comparison to 37 percent of Generation X and 35 percent of baby boomers. Though entrepreneurship is still dominated by men, millennial women could change this stereotype as they continue to pursue opportunities to launch their own companies.

“As entrepreneurs who identify as millennial and female, the response from our community has been extremely encouraging,” said Cortney Sims, co-founder of Coco and Ilia, a fashion brand. “The experience has been incredible, emotional, stressful, yet educational on multiple levels. We wouldn't trade our journey thus far for the world. Having the ability and opportunity to start and own our own business at such a young age is surreal in the best way possible.”

Unsurprisingly, millennial small business owners as a group are navigating the burden of student loan debt. While 34 percent of millennial respondents said they have student loan debt, only 21 percent of Generation X and 9 percent of baby boomers said the same.

When it comes to securing funds to start a business, tapping into personal savings is the method of choice. Manta found that 64 percent of millennials, 68 percent of Generation X and 65 percent of baby boomers used their savings to get their companies up and running.

In terms of what motivated small business owners to launch their own companies, Manta’s analysis reveals millennials want to be their own boss (31 percent) while many baby boomers (35 percent) and Generation X small business owners (31 percent) are passionate about their companies.

Gender Also Plays Key Role in Shaping Small Business Owners’ Trajectory
Similarly, Manta explored how gender plays a role in the demographic profile of today’s small business owners, and found clear differences among men and women small business owners.

For instance, women small business owners tend to have more student loan debt than male counterparts. Twenty-six percent of women are currently paying off college loans – a number that decreases to 15 percent for men owners.

Motivation for establishing a small business is another area where men and women have differing opinions. The number one-driver behind women’s desire to become an entrepreneur is passion for their company, cited by 37 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, 29 percent of men said their main motivation for entering business ownership is the opportunity to be their own boss.

Men and women small business owners are on the same page when it comes to how they secured funds to start their companies. Leveraging personal savings was the top funding method cited by both men and women small business owners (65 percent and 66 percent respectively).

For more information and insight into the demographic profile of today’s small business owner, view complete results from the survey here.

About Manta
Manta empowers small business owners to succeed on their own terms by helping them stand out, connect with customers and grow their companies. Our solutions include a small business directory with millions of unique monthly visitors, valuable content and a suite of products to manage critical business needs. We strive to inform and inspire through learning opportunities, proprietary research, and a robust online community for dialogue and collaboration. Thousands of business owners join Manta each month. Visit to learn why.

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Kaitlin Mansour
Walker Sands Communications
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