Business Owner Demographics

11 New U.S. Business Owner Demographics & Statistics for 2024

Published on: December 9, 2023
Last Updated: December 9, 2023

11 New U.S. Business Owner Demographics & Statistics for 2024

Published on: December 9, 2023
Last Updated: December 9, 2023

Small businesses are the backbone of America and many countries across the globe. In the US, 99% of businesses are classified as small.

In general, that means they have fewer than 100 employees. 

While the importance of small businesses isn’t changing, the reality regarding who owns them is. 

It’s time to look at the latest business owner demographics; you may be surprised by what you discover. 

Don’t forget that the US population has become more diverse in recent years, which has impacted business ownership. 

Key Statistics

  • 51.4% of businesses are owned by men
  • 97% of general superintendent’s are male
  • 67% of business owners are white
  • Asian business owners command the highest salaries
  • The average white business owner is 45 years old
  • An average small business employs 11 people
  • 56% of small business owners don’t have a college degree
  • 35% of US small businesses are llc
  • The majority of minority-owned firms are in urban areas
  • 78% of businesses operate in the private sector
  • Unemployment rate for business owners in 2021 was 4.01%

Top Business Owner Demographics & Statistics in 2024

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1. 51.4% Of Businesses Are Owned By Men

More businesses are owned by men than by women. This probably doesn’t seem surprising.

However, this is the figure for 2021.

There is little difference between the sexes, but it hasn’t always been this way. 

In 2010, 57.53% of businesses were owned by men, compared to 42.47% by women. 

The percentage of male-owned businesses decreased steadily for several years. In 2011 it dropped to 56.81%, and by 2012 it was as low as 55.94%.

The years 2013 to 2016 saw a resurgence in popularity of male-owned businesses. In 2013 it was 56.51%, climbing to 58.416% in 2014.

The level was roughly the same in 2016 at 58.04%

Since then, male-owned businesses have again decreased in popularity. By 2019 it had dropped to 53.06% and by 2021 it is as low as 51.37%.

It seems likely that it’s just a matter of time before there are more female-owned businesses than male. 


2. 97% Of General Superintendent’s Are Male

In a comparison of business owners with similar titles, it is quickly obvious that several industries have a much bigger gender ratio gap than others. 

The most obvious example is the General Superintendent role.

According to the research, 97% of people with this title are male.

Street Superintendent and District Commercial Superintendent have the same ratio, with just 3% of people with these titles being female. 

In contrast, people simply titled business owner, are much more equally balanced. 51% of respondents with this title were male, and 49% female.

Females are more commonly referred to as salon managers. 88% of people with this title were female. 

Both administrative Assistant to General Manager and Manager Stylist were predominantly female roles. They both got 91% of the female vote.


3. 67% Of Business Owners Are White

In a recent survey by Zippia, it was found that 67% of business owners are white.

By comparison, 15.5% of business owners in the US are either Hispanic or Latino. 

The survey also revealed that 6.4% of business owners are Asian, closely followed by 6.3% of owners being either black or African American. 

American Indian and Alaskan natives represent just 0.5% of business owners, leaving 4.3% of owners with an unknown origin. 

While white business owners are still a significant majority, it’s worth noting that the percentage of white owners has been dropping steadily for years. 

In 2010 75% of owners were white, 11% Hispanic or Latino, 6% black, and 5% Asian.

By 2016, just 71% of business owners were white, 14% Hispanic or Latino, 6% black, and 6% Asian. 

It may be dropping slowly but estimates suggest only 50% of businesses will be owned by white people by 2050.


4. Asian Business Owners Command The Highest Salaries

Although more businesses are owned by white people, it appears Asian business owners are better at paying themselves.

According to a recent survey by Zippia, the average salary for an Asian business owner is $56,808. 

White owners award themselves a little less, at $55,49, and black or African American owners average $50,539. 

All other business owners, generally classified as unknown ethnicities, get an average salary of $52,690.

It’s not clear if the salary is profit-related or decided in some other way. 


5. The Average White Business Owner Is 45 Years Old

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Anyone can start a business at any age. In the past, businesses were generally started slightly later in life.

It gave people a chance to gain the knowledge and finances needed to successfully run a business. 

Today, it’s easy for anyone to start a business and, thanks to the internet, startup costs can be surprisingly small. 

According to the latest reports, the average age for a white male business owner is 45, white female owners average 44. 

All other ethnicities have lower average ages!

Black and African American owners are, on average, 42 if male and 45 if female. 

Asian business owners are, on average, 43 if male and 41 if female.

Hispanics and Latinos are even younger. The average male business owner is 42, with female owners being 40. 

American Indian and Alaskan natives are 43, if male, and 44 if female. 

It’s interesting to note that in all ethnicities, men and women are close in age and the range is between 40-45.

Perhaps people still prefer to wait before launching their own company. 


6. An Average Small Business Employs 11 People

The majority of businesses in the US are classified as small businesses, meaning they have less than 100 employees.

Yet, according to the latest statistics, the average small business employs just 11 people.

Naturally, these figures are distorted by a small percentage of small businesses with a larger number of employees versus the majority which have none. 

However, what is interesting is that the average by gender is surprisingly different.

On average, male-owned businesses have 12 employees. In contrast, female-owned businesses have just 8 employees.

This is similar to minority ethnic groups. On average, minority-owned businesses have 8 employees, and businesses owned by non-minorities have 11.5 employees. 

The survey didn’t ask why this was the case.

However, a different study found that minority-owned businesses were less likely to receive outside funding.

This may have an impact on their ability to hire individuals. 


7. 56% Of Small Business Owners Don’t Have A College Degree

You may assume that business owners are intelligent, have a high level of education, and are naturally successful. 

That’s not necessarily the case. Anyone can start a business and the statistics show that a lot of people with minimal education do. 

According to the latest research, 56% of business owners don’t have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. 

The study found that 26% of small business owners had a Bachelor’s degree and 18% had a postgraduate qualification. 

It was also revealed that 17% of owners have some college education, while 14% have an associate degree. 

Amazingly, 20% of small business owners have just a high school education and 5% never even received a GED.

You often hear of success stories, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, people who have created business empires but who dropped out of college. 

This study shows there may be a lot more people succeeding in this way, although perhaps not at the same level as those mentioned. 

It should be noted that a 2013 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the most successful entrepreneurs were often male, white, and came from a rich background.

(CNBC/Survey Monkey)

8. 35% Of US Small Businesses Are LLC

Anyone can start a business. However, when you start you need to consider the best entity for your startup. 

While many people assume that a sole proprietorship is the simplest and most effective option, that’s not always the case.

After all, this type of business structure leaves you personally liable for business debts.

That’s why all new business owners should do some research and perhaps take professional advice on the type of business most suited to them.

According to the 2018 report by the NSBA, an impressive 35% of business owners choose to limit their liability by setting up an LLC. 

Just 12% of businesses opt for sole proprietorship. 

Nearly as many people take the next step and create an S corporation. Statistics show that 33% of small businesses are of this type, while just 2% are partnerships. 

The remaining 19% choose to become corporations. The report didn’t look at what each business did to help them decide their structure. 

(National Small Business Association)

9. The Majority Of Minority-Owned Firms Are In Urban Areas

The US Dept of Commerce does an annual review of all businesses. The 2020 review found that there were just 56,865 businesses owned by minority groups in rural locations. 

In contrast, non-minority groups had 648,420 rural businesses.

Minority-owned businesses in urban locations totaled 1,010,744. A significantly higher figure. Interestingly, the same was true for non-minority-run businesses. There were over 3,350,040 of these. 

The statistic suggests that significantly more businesses operate from urban areas than rural locations. 

While this makes sense for businesses which need physical premises and passing trade, it isn’t necessary for those businesses looking to trade online.

They can be located anywhere and rural is generally cheaper. 

(US Dept. Of Commerce)

10. 78% Of Businesses Operate In The Private Sector

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According to the most recent statistics, 78% of businesses are operated in the private sector. 

This is generally the easiest type of business to create, once you’ve established a business type you can start trading.

Of course, you’ll need to comply with all relevant laws and taxes. 

The survey found that just 2% of businesses operated in the education sector and 16% were public.

That’s the largest companies with shares on the stock markets. 

That leaves just 3% of businesses operating in the government sector. 

It’s interesting to note that these figures can be broken down further.

Approximately 15% of businesses are in retail, 10% in manufacturing, and another 10% in professional. 

Surprisingly; only 8% operate in the technology industry and 8% are part of the Fortune 500.

Healthcare doesn’t fare so well, it has 7% of businesses. However, media comes off at the bottom with just 5% of all businesses trading in this sector. 


11. Unemployment Rate For Business Owners In 2021 Was 4.01%

According to US law, it is possible for a business owner to claim unemployment if they have been an employee in their own business and paid the appropriate taxes. 

In that situation, if they are no longer an employee of their own company and actively seeking alternate work, they can file for unemployment. 

Interestingly, despite the failure rate for small businesses being 20% in the first year, according to the 2021 survey, just 4.01% of small business owners filed for unemployment. 

The percentage of small business owners registering as unemployed has increased in recent years.

In 2019, pre-pandemic, it was 2.22%. In 2020 it jumped to 3.68% and then to 4.01% in 2021. 

It hasn’t been this high since 2012 when it was at 4.50%.

Between 2012 and 2019, the percentage of unemployed business owners has declined. The lowest being 2.15% in 2018.


Summing Up

Business owner demographics make interesting reading as it highlights both how many business owners there are in the US and how they are unevenly distributed.

Despite moves toward equality in many fields, business owners are predominantly white.

There are more male business owners than females.

What is also clear is that small businesses continue to be the backbone of the economy.

A little more support for businesses when starting up could make a huge difference to their success rate, appeal, and even the economy itself. 

If you’re considering becoming a business owner then take a look at the above demographics, you can succeed from anywhere. 



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Written by Kelly Indah

I’m a statistics researcher here at EarthWeb with a special interest in privacy, tech, diversity, equality and human rights. I have a master’s degree in Computer Science and I have my Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.