Startup success stats

In 2009, the estimated 29.6 million small businesses in the United States:

  • Employed just over half of the country’s private sector workforce
  • Hired 40 percent of high tech workers, such as scientists, engineers and computer workers
  • Included 52 percent home-based businesses and two percent franchises
  • Represented 97.3 percent of all the exporters of goods
  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms
  • Generated a majority of the innovations that come from United States companies

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, September 2009

Building a new business is a great dream that comes with high risks and potentially high rewards.  Unfortunately a large number of new businesses do not see a positive outcome.

  • In 2008 there were 627,200 new businesses, 595,600 business closures and 43,546 bankruptcies.


  • Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least two years, and about half survive five years.
  • Findings do not differ greatly across industry sectors.

Do success rates really need to be this low?  How effective are educational and government programs? What is missing from this picture?