Citibank Survey Reveals Conservativism Among Older Entrepreneurs

The USA Citibank small business survey (Q1, 2010) reveals dramatic differences in attitude between older and younger entrepreneurs according to this article. For example:

  • 41 percent of the older respondents don’t believe their businesses will be better off in 12 months, while 53 percent of the younger business owners think things will be improved a year from now.
  • Comparing business conditions today, 3 percent of younger respondents say things are somewhat or much worse, that’s compared to 46 percent of the older decision makers.
  • When asked about their marketing plans for the next year. More than one third of the younger respondents say they plan to invest more in marketing, while only 22 percent of older decision makers say the same.
  • Younger business owners were more likely to have used online advertising in the past year (45 percent as compared to 32 percent of older respondents); search engine optimization (44 percent versus 30 percent); and social networking sites (27 percent versus 16 percent).
  • Young respondents are much more likely than those 45 and older to use online marketing tools in the next 12 months, with social networking figuring in the future plans of 39 percent of young business owners as compared to 27 percent of older respondents.

Citibank conducted the phone survey between March 10 and March 31, and the pool of participants was drawn from 552 small businesses. Respondents included owners, presidents and managers of businesses that claimed revenues of more than $100,000 and no more than 100 employees.

While depressing, these findings are not surprising. Older entrepreneurs have a lower apetite for risk because they have less time to recover their wealth in the case of failed ventures. It may also be indicative of the prudence that comes with age.

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