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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Average Age of Entrepreneurs in Largest US Metros Drops to 36 From 40

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Entrepreneurship’s not easy, but becoming an employee can be pretty tough these days, too. So maybe it’s no surprise that many Americans are taking matters into their own hands and starting their own businesses — and doing so earlier in their careers than in recent memory.

The newest LendingTree study found that the average age of entrepreneurs across the 50 largest U.S. metros is 36.40 — almost four years younger than when we last did this study two years ago.

Salt Lake City boasts the youngest go-getters, with entrepreneurs starting their ventures at an average of 34.13 years old. By state, South Dakota leads with entrepreneurs as young as 32.94, on average.

  • The average age of entrepreneurs across the 50 largest U.S metros is 36.40. That’s down from 40.20 when we last examined this topic in 2021.
  • Salt Lake City is home to the youngest entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs in the Utah metro are an average of 34.13 years old when they start businesses. Pittsburgh (34.15 years old) and Cleveland (34.27) follow.
  • Las Vegas is home to the oldest entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs in the Nevada metro are an average of 38.74 years old. The next closest are San Antonio (38.13 years old) and Richmond, Va. (37.69).
  • By state, South Dakota has the youngest entrepreneurs and Wyoming has the oldest. The average age of entrepreneurs in South Dakota is 32.94, versus 38.61 in Wyoming.
According to a sample of about 23,000 funding requests on our SnapCap by LendingTree platform between July 2022 and June 2023, the average age that startup founders do their founding in the 50 largest U.S. metros is down to 36.40 from 40.20 in 2021. (Note: The 2021 study analyzed data from more than 100,000 borrowers seeking business loans on the SnapCap platform, but covered five years.)

Still, a four-year age difference over two years constitutes a significant dip — one that may have multiple explanations. Perhaps the pandemic’s expansion of work-from-home life left some workers eager for autonomy once employers mandated a return to the office. Or maybe, as Time reports, it’s true that the job search process has become lengthier and more laborious in recent years — prompting bold, young fortune-seekers to pursue alternate options.

But according to LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz, that might not be bad. This particular age gap likely doesn’t confer a substantial difference in judgment, after all: “There can be a world of difference between a 21-year-old and a 25-year-old, but less so with a 36-year-old and 40-year-old,” he says.

And when it comes to starting a business, “it’s like they say about planting trees,” he goes on. “The best time to do it was 20 years ago, but the second best time is today.”

The average age of entrepreneurs shifts significantly by metro. Our study found that Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh and Cleveland boast the youngest entrepreneurs, with founders getting their start at an average age of 34.13, 34.15 and 34.27, respectively.

In Salt Lake City, the data may be impacted by Utah’s status as a hub for direct sales businesses (often referenced as multilevel marketing). A popular tactic for Mormon women hoping to earn money while maintaining the freedom to stay home and raise their children, direct sales could account for the western metro’s host of young entrepreneurs.

Metros with the youngest entrepreneurs

RankMetroAverage age
1Salt Lake City, UT34.13
2Pittsburgh, PA34.15
3Cleveland, OH34.27

Source: LendingTree analysis of SnapCap data.

Six of the metros on the top 10 list are in states represented in the Rust Belt, even if some metros aren’t directly considered part of the region:

  • Pittsburgh in second
  • Cleveland in third
  • Philadelphia in fourth (34.44)
  • Milwaukee in sixth (34.54)
  • Detroit in eighth (34.80)
  • Buffalo, N.Y., in 10th (34.98)

An array of seemingly disparate metros populates the remainder of the top 10:

  • Providence, R.I., in fifth (34.52)
  • Portland, Ore., in seventh (34.64)
  • Nashville, Tenn., in ninth (34.95)

It’s worth noting that the average entrepreneurial age in each of the top 10 metros is under 35.

At the other end of the spectrum — relatively late-blooming entrepreneurs — Las Vegas, San Antonio and Richmond, Va., reign. Entrepreneurs in these metros get their starts at 38.74, 38.13 and 37.69, respectively.

Metros with the oldest entrepreneurs

RankMetroAverage age
1Las Vegas, NV38.74
2San Antonio, TX38.13
3Richmond, VA37.69

Source: LendingTree analysis of SnapCap data.

With the exceptions of Richmond, Va., Hartford, Conn. (fourth, with an average entrepreneurial age of 37.35) and Baltimore (sixth at 37.28), each metro on the top 10 list with the oldest entrepreneurs is situated in a warm or hot climate.

In fact, three of the 10 metros are in Florida:

  • Orlando in fifth (37.32)
  • Tampa in seventh (37.20)
  • Miami in ninth (37.14)

Riverside, Calif. (in eighth at 37.17), and Atlanta (tied for ninth at 37.14) round out the top 10.

Given that even the “oldest” entrepreneurs are still, on average, founding their businesses under 40, it would be hard to argue the South is full of slackers. But there is scientific evidence that heat slows down the human body and even impacts cognition, so entrepreneurs in hot climates may be battling an even more difficult uphill battle.

Metros with the youngest/oldest entrepreneurs

RankMetroAverage age
1Salt Lake City, UT34.13
2Pittsburgh, PA34.15
3Cleveland, OH34.27
4Philadelphia, PA34.44
5Providence, RI34.52
6Milwaukee, WI34.54
7Portland, OR34.64
8Detroit, MI34.80
9Nashville, TN34.95
10Buffalo, NY34.98
11Minneapolis, MN35.14
12New Orleans, LA35.29
13Cincinnati, OH35.35
14St. Louis, MO35.44
15Chicago, IL35.47
16Kansas City, MO35.63
17New York, NY35.69
18Oklahoma City, OK35.75
19Austin, TX35.83
20Louisville, KY35.97
21Boston, MA36.04
22Raleigh, NC36.12
23Phoenix, AZ36.15
24Indianapolis, IN36.18
25Sacramento, CA36.23
26Columbus, OH36.29
27San Jose, CA36.38
28Charlotte, NC36.57
29Birmingham, AL36.77
30Houston, TX36.78
31Los Angeles, CA36.87
32Jacksonville, FL36.88
33Memphis, TN36.91
34Denver, CO36.92
35Seattle, WA36.96
36Virginia Beach, VA36.99
37Washington, DC37.01
38San Francisco, CA37.02
39Dallas, TX37.10
39San Diego, CA37.10
41Atlanta, GA37.14
41Miami, FL37.14
43Riverside, CA37.17
44Tampa, FL37.20
45Baltimore, MD37.28
46Orlando, FL37.32
47Hartford, CT37.35
48Richmond, VA37.69
49San Antonio, TX38.13
50Las Vegas, NV38.74

Source: LendingTree analysis of SnapCap data.

At a state level — across all metros (not only the largest ones), so this sample includes more than 35,000 funding requests from business owners  — South Dakota boasts the youngest entrepreneurs, while Wyoming is home to the oldest. The average entrepreneurial age in South Dakota is 32.94, while hopefuls in Wyoming wait until an average age of 38.61 to get started. (Note: Using this more inclusive measure, the average entrepreneurial age nationwide drops slightly to 36.24.)

Both South Dakota and Wyoming are sparsely populated states — according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, each is home to fewer than 1 million people. But the leading state offers a considerably larger metropolitan area, which may offer more support and resources for young entrepreneurs. Sioux City, South Dakota’s largest by population, has over 200,000 residents, while Wyoming’s biggest city, Cheyenne, is home to less than 65,000.

But, again, the states represented at the top and bottom of the list are quite distinct, with few patterns holding steadily across the data. Both densely and sparsely populated states are found scattered throughout the list. This may be the effect of the equalizing power of remote work: When entrepreneurship can be done from behind a computer screen, it can be done regardless of which state one calls home.

States with the youngest/oldest entrepreneurs

RankStateAverage age
1South Dakota32.94
8Rhode Island34.54
20New York35.46
25New Jersey35.76
29North Dakota36.00
33New Mexico36.39
37North Carolina36.63
38West Virginia36.78
43New Hampshire36.96
45South Carolina37.10
48District of Columbia37.38

Source: LendingTree analysis of SnapCap data. Note: Hawaii is excluded.

Considering a startup of your own? Becoming a business owner is no easy feat, but it’s possible when you do your homework ahead of time.

  • Consider the unsexy logistics. It might be more fun to fantasize about what color you’ll paint the walls of your storefront, but start with grittier details to set yourself up for success: What should your title be? How will you pay yourself? Which business structure should you choose? “Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the old saying goes,” Schulz says. “Build a business plan. Research the competition. Understand your target customers. Doing these things certainly won’t guarantee success, but not doing them may doom your business to failure.”
  • Figure out which resources are available for you — and use them. “There are countless government organizations, nonprofits and businesses geared to help entrepreneurs succeed,” Schulz says. “They can help with funding, training, marketing, networking, developing a business plan and virtually anything else that goes into running a business.” To get started, Google “small business resources in my area” — you’ll be surprised how many tools and options come up.
  • Take advantage of tax deductions. As financially perilous as it can be to go into business, you have one major advantage: Many, many business expenses are tax deductible. A qualified tax professional can help make sure your books are in good order — and that you’re getting back every cent you can from Uncle Sam.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support. “Entrepreneurship can be brutal,” Schulz says. “There are long hours, big bills and intense stress, all with no guarantee of success.” That’s why it’s so important to find a good support network — and to be vulnerable enough to ask for the help you need. “Obviously, financial support is essential, but don’t overlook the importance of emotional support,” Schulz continues. “Having folks rooting for you is vital to surviving the rigors of entrepreneurship.”
  • Considering a small business loan? You’ve got options. Funding can be important enough to your business’ success to pay for, but you want your loan to be as affordable as possible. Fortunately, our online database of the best small business loans makes it easy to shop around at a glance.

Analysts used a sample of more than 35,000 funding requests from business owners on our SnapCap by LendingTree platform, made between July 2022 and June 2023, to calculate the average age of business owners at the time of founding. This included about 23,000 requests in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas.

Age was calculated by subtracting the year of founding from the owner’s reported birth year. The sample was limited to owners with reported birth years between 1943 and 2003 and those who proceeded through our “concierge” service.

Hawaii was excluded due to insufficient data.

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