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Why Aren’t Entrepreneurial Millennials Starting Businesses?

Millennials may not actually be as entrepreneurial as they like to think. Despite nearly 70 percent of those polled telling Bentley University researchers they’d like to start companies, millennials are the least entrepreneurial generation in 70 years.

New research from The Kauffman Foundation found 20- to 34-year-olds make up just a quarter of all entrepreneurs. When the previous generation was in that same age range, they comprised nearly a third of entrepreneurs. Another study from the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration shows that fewer than 2 percent of millennials are self-employed or own businesses.

Numerous factors play into the lack of young entrepreneurs, but one may be strictly financial: Millennials carry more student loan debt than any generation in history. According to Edvisors, the average 2015 college graduate finished school more than $35,000 in debt.

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Millennials also may be taking a more cautious approach than all-in business owners because they want to protect their flexibility. Research from the site FlexJobs found nearly a third of all under-35 professionals would prefer to work part-time so they could also freelance, and 39 percent said they like to spend their free time pursuing passion projects.

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