With 80% of new businesses not making it to their fifth anniversary, it’s understandable why many might steer clear of pursuing their dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
That fear of failure is even more pronounced among young people under 30, according to a recent survey of 26,000 people in 24 countries.
That was the most startling finding from the comprehensive study on entrepreneurship, according to Steve Van Andel, chairman of Amway and also the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His west Michigan company sponsored the recent report.
“Entrepreneurs are important to our economy,” Van Andel said. “They create jobs and stimulate growth.”
“We found that fears of young people are different — and that fear of disappointing friends or family is stronger in that age group than others,” he added.
Amway partnered with the University of Munich and GfK, a research company, in the survey. It interviewed 26,000 people, ages 14-99, who were asked about entrepreneurship.
While the report affirmed that the entrepreneurial spirit is still strong in the U.S., respondents mentioned education, training, financing options and government and familial support as critical requirements to encourage business ownership and entrepreneurship.
Young people in the U.S., Russia, Australia and Great Britain had a higher percentage of those under 30 who mentioned “fear of failure” as an obstacle to starting a business.
In the U.S., 48% of respondents under 30 mentioned “fear of failure” as an obstacle, compared with 38% of Americans of other ages.
Meanwhile, there was little difference between the under-30 crowd and their older brethren in Mexico, Ukraine, Poland and Japan.
Amway has been analyzing data about entrepreneurship since 2008, which is understandable given their business.
The firm is one of the world’s largest direct selling businesses with global sales of $11.3 billion in 2012. The Ada-based firm has three million distributors and 21,000 employees in 100 countries and territories.
The company started off selling household goods but grew to include other products like soaps, cosmetics and vitamins.
The privately held firm was founded in 1959 by Van Andel’s father, Jay, and Rich DeVos, who remains on its board. The two families own the company.
Like most entrepreneurs, the elder Van Andel and DeVos had a few misses before they hit pay dirt. They had a flight school, a hamburger stand and other things.
But it was Amway, launched from their basements, that grew into the far-flung company it is today.
Van Andel, eldest son of Jay, runs Amway with Doug DeVos, youngest son of Rich, who serves as president.
Like his father, Van Andel chairs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has been a voice for business on a national scale.
Van Andel said Amway will spend time dissecting the study to learn more about young people and fear of failure.
Learn from others’ mistakes
Others are interested in the issue, too. One person is Jonathan Williams, who helps run an organization called Failure:Lab launched a year ago to end the stigma of failure.
Failure: Lab is a storytelling event where people hear invitees talk for 10 minutes about challenges. The organization has held events in Grand Rapids and Detroit and has another scheduled for Mexico City this spring.
“By allowing successful people to be vulnerable and share mistakes we are able to learn,” said Williams.
From: Detroit Free Press