Who are Entrepreneurs?

The heroes of American business – Fred Smith, Spike Lee, Henry Ford, Sam Walton, Mary Kay Ash, Bill Gates, Michael Dell are almost always entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs start with a vision. Often they are unhappy with their current jobs and see an opportunity to bring together the resources needed for a new venture. However, the image of entrepreneurs as bold pioneers probably is overly romantic. A survey of the CEOs of the nation’s fastest growing small firms found that these entrepreneurs could be best characterized as hardworking and practical with great familiarity with their market and industry. For example Nancy Rodriguez was a veteran R&D manager to Swift foods before she started Food Marketing Support services. Rodriquez started the firm in the mid 1980s. Large companies can now take a rough new product idea to Food Marketing, which fully develops the concept creates prototypes does taste testing and so forth. American Pop Corn, which makes Jolly Tome Pop Corn located 100 percent of its new product development dollars to the 20 person firms, which does about $5 million in business a year.

Diversity of Entrepreneurs:

Entrepreneurs often have backgrounds and demographic characteristics that distinguish them from other people. Entrepreneurs are more likely to be the first born within their families, and their parents are more likely to have been entrepreneurs. Children of immigrants also are likely to be entrepreneurs. Consider Hector Barreto Jr., whose parents were both Mexican immigrants and several successful businesses in Kansas City, Missouri including a restaurant, an import-export business and a construction firm. After a four year stint as an area manager for Miller Brewing Company, Hector moved to California and started Barreto Financial Services. Later, he started another firm to provide technical assistance to small businesses. Barreto’s next step was into the head office of the Small business administration where he became the first entrepreneur to lead the government agency.

Entrepreneurship offers opportunities for individuals who may feel blocked in established corporations. Women owned and minority owned businesses may be the emerging growth companies of the next decade. Between the years of 1997 and 2002, the number of companies owned 50 percent or more by women jumped 11 per cent to 10.1 million, nearly twice the rate of all privately owned firms. Annual revenues of female owned firms during the same period increased 32 per cent to more than $ 2.3 trillion. Statistics for minorities are also impressive. The number of new firms launched by minorities is growing about 17 percent a year, with African American businesses growing the fastest. African American males between the ages of 25 and 35 start more businesses than any other group in the country. Moreover the face of entrepreneurship for the future will be increasingly diverse. When Junior Achievement (an organization that educates young people about business) conducted a poll of teenagers ages 13 to 18 it found a much greater interest among minorities than whites in starting a business as shown.

The types of businesses launched by minority entrepreneurs are also increasingly sophisticated. The traditional minority owned mom and pop retail store or restaurant is being replaced by firms in industries such as financial services, insurance and media. For example, Pat Winans an African American who grew up in a Chicago ghetto, started Magna Securities a successful institutional brokerage firm in New York City with just $5,000. Ed Chin, a third generation Chinese American founded AIS Corporation to offer small and mid sized companies the kind of sophisticated insurance packages usually available only to large companies. Chin originally found a niche by catering to the Asian marketplace but word of mouth has helped his company expand beyond that limited market.

A glimpse of Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

1) White – 69% ]
2) Hispanic /Latino – 79%
3) African American – 86%
4) Asian / Pacific – 89%.

Percentage of teenager polled by Junior Achievement who said they want to start their own business.

Source: New Era Management