Please Grow Up to Be An Entrepreneur, Parents Say; Teens Not So Sure

Nearly nine-in-ten parents (88%) would be extremely or very likely to support their teen's interest in becoming an entrepreneur as an adult, but less than one-in-three teens (30%) demonstrate that same level of enthusiasm for starting a business. That’s according to a new national survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of Junior Achievement (JA) and EY. For teens, the greatest concerns for starting a business include it being "too risky" (31%) and "not enough money in it" (22%). Only 16 percent of teens indicate they have no concerns about trying. Conversely, 53 percent of parents have no concerns about their teen starting a business as an adult. Those citing concerns focused on it being "too risky" (27%) and there being "not enough money in it" (9%).

The survey was released during November, which is National Entrepreneurship Month.

"These results speak to some of the challenges facing the nation when it comes to business creation," said Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "Since the Great Recession in 2008, the country has been experiencing a net decline in business start-ups. Today's young people grew up in the shadow of the Financial Crisis, which may explain their risk-aversion when it comes to taking the entrepreneurial leap. This is why we need to promote the benefits of entrepreneurship early and often."

The survey was conducted to coincide with EY's support of Junior Achievement's JA Launch Lesson, a program delivered by community entrepreneurs whereby high school students gain firsthand knowledge about starting a business and the entrepreneurial journey. JA Launch Lesson is a 50-minute educational experience that creates a point-of-entry for students, volunteers, and educators.

The new program will be delivered by entrepreneurs in classrooms, after-school facilities, and other student venues across the United States, beginning this month. Entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to connect with students, provide relevant information about their company and entrepreneurial journey, and share advice and next steps for students who are interested in starting their own business.

Teens were also asked what they would need in order to consider becoming an entrepreneur. About half said they would need "more information on what it takes to be successful" (51%), "investors" (50%) and "support from parents" (49%). About a third said they would need "a role model who is a business owner" (35%) and "friends with a similar interest" (32%).

Promoting entrepreneurship is not a new endeavor for JA Southwest New England, which last year reached 43,000 students, the second consecutive year reaching the most students in the history of the organization, and a 24% increase over two year period.

In Connecticut this year, JA worked with Pratt & Whitney to launch the JA Entrepreneurial Academy.  The after-school program taught students firsthand about manufacturing and entrepreneurship, to better prepare them to join the workforce and perhaps plan their own companies with this insider knowledge.

Jeremy Race, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, said “Through this program, young people gain a deeper understanding of how businesses are founded and operate…to help free the entrepreneurial spirit and hopefully serve as a catalyst for future business growth in Connecticut.”

In addition to manufacturing- related entrepreneurship, the academy also introduced students to an array of other entrepreneurial skills including leadership and how to pitch a business concept. Volunteers from both Goodwin College and Pratt & Whitney worked with the students to show how lessons learned in the classroom are deployed in the real world, and how the value of experience added to education makes for unequaled talent.

Also this past spring, JA Southwest New England partnered with the Junior League of Hartford for the third consecutive year to implement the JA Career Connections for Young Women program.  It is an intensive after-school curriculum, bringing together a handful of high school students from the Greater Hartford area to undergo ten sessions that are aimed at providing young women with practical advice and wisdom about the world of work, from how to get hired to learning about their own personal brand.

Students hear first-hand from female professionals on how to develop valuable soft skills, gain confidence on the job, perfect their public speaking skills and the do’s and don’ts of a job interview.  They also identify a career cluster of interest and, in groups, visit a job site in that chosen field, getting an opportunity to imagine their future selves at work.

The new JA Launch Lesson in another initiative aimed to sharing the how-to of entrepreneurship and business with young students.

"Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind growth and positive change, and at EY we believe it is vital to help enable our future generation of innovators," said Randy Cain, Vice Chair and Southwest Region Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, and JA USA board member. "Creative, hands-on programs such as JA Launch Lesson are critical to providing our youth with the tools, information and resources necessary to succeed when starting their own business."

This report presents the findings of surveys conducted among a sample of 1,007 parents of children ages 13-17 and a sample of 1,005 13-17-year-olds.  The surveys were live nationwide, October 3-8, 2017.

Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA reaches more than 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.6 million students served by operations in 100 other countries worldwide. JA Southwest New England, which includes much of Connecticut, is at