Challenges for Entrepreneurs in the Heartland

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: Entrepreneurs in the Heartland – Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska – perceive challenges differently compared to entrepreneurs nationally. While both heartland and national entrepreneurs list finding customers as their biggest challenge, heartland entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to point to a lack of access to credit as a major hurdle. 

Entrepreneurs have the potential to create new jobs in their communities, bring new products and services to the market, and change the way we lead our lives. But it’s not enough to have a good idea. Some aspiring entrepreneurs encounter barriers that prevent them from ever starting a business. And those entrepreneurs who do start businesses may face challenges that limit the ability of their businesses to flourish. As a result, individuals and communities may collectively lose out on the new jobs, products, services, and innovations that were never created.

Understanding the barriers entrepreneurs encounter along their journeys can help entrepreneurship supporters – including nonprofits, funders, policymakers, investors, and researchers – better understand how to help entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. These barriers differ based on geography, with entrepreneurs in the heartland facing different hurdles to those nationally. 

Entrepreneurs in the Heartland and nationally most commonly report that finding customers is challenging – about 6 in 10 entrepreneurs in the Heartland and across the country. In the Heartland, funds to start the business is a challenge among 54% of entrepreneurs and funds to grow the business is a challenge among 60% of entrepreneurs, compared with 46% and 49% of entrepreneurs nationally.

Laws, policies, and regulations are a challenge for 55% of Heartland entrepreneurs, compared to 46% of entrepreneurs nationally. Self-doubt and fear is a challenge for 55% of Heartland entrepreneurs and 42% of entrepreneurs nationally. Entrepreneurs in the Heartland report more difficulties in attaining information, education, and knowledge than entrepreneurs nationally – 47% compared with 37%, respectively. 

Both groups are similarly challenged by finding networks and connections – 44% in the Heartland and 45% nationally – and skilled employees – 50% in the Heartland and 53% nationally. Finding mentors to provide guidance is more of a challenge for Heartland entrepreneurs than nationally – 40% compared with 33%. 

Time to devote to the business is reported as challenging by 34% of entrepreneurs in the Heartland and 39% of entrepreneurs nationally. Location, region, or geography is a challenge for almost 4 in 10 entrepreneurs in the Heartland, compared with 1 in 4 entrepreneurs across the country.

Social support is a challenge for 1 in 3 Heartland entrepreneurs compared with 1 in 4 entrepreneurs nationally. Inclusion based on race, ethnicity, gender, income, or other factors is a challenge among 18% of Heartland entrepreneurs and 13% of entrepreneurs nationally.

Read the full study HERE.

Feature Charticle

Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs in the Heartland and Nationally

Kauffman Foundation

Findings:

  • Entrepreneurs in the Heartland and nationally most commonly report that finding customers is challenging – about 6 in 10 entrepreneurs in the Heartland and across the country.
  • In the Heartland, funds to start the business is a challenge among 54% of entrepreneurs and funds to grow the business is a challenge among 60% of entrepreneurs, compared with 46% and 49% of entrepreneurs nationally.
  • Laws, policies, and regulations are a challenge for 55% of Heartland entrepreneurs, compared to 46% of entrepreneurs nationally.

Read the full study HERE