Despite Formidable Obstacles, 93% of Entrepreneurs Believe the Entrepreneurship Journey is Worth It

NPR’s New How I Built This “The Secret Lives of Entrepreneurs” Study Tackles Gender, Race & Age Bias; Physical & Mental Health; and Relationship Challenges

Tuesday, October 16; San Francisco, CA – At the inaugural How I Built This Summit with Guy Raz in San Francisco, NPR’s How I Built This today revealed the findings of its “The Secret Lives of Entrepreneurs” study. The thought-provoking analysis is the first of its kind that examines the impact of entrepreneurism on the health and relationships of a diverse set of entrepreneurs. The study uncovered a whopping 93% of respondents believe that entrepreneurship provides a strong, positive impact on their lives. Despite experiencing times of formidable challenges, frustrations and even bias, entrepreneurs are much more resilient, motivated, confident, passionate, and fulfilled from having been on the journey.

“There’s a romance to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. You start your own venture, hustle, make a few mistakes, and then it all works out. But the reality is more complicated. The journey is filled with failure, crisis, hardship, risk and, if you’re lucky, success. On the How I Built This podcast, we try to offer a full picture of what it takes to persist and to manage the trade-offs that come with starting a business from scratch,” says podcast creator Guy Raz. “Our new study sheds lights on some of these challenges and we hope, will give budding entrepreneurs a fuller picture of what they can expect on their journeys. At the How I Built This Summit, our impressive roster of speakers and mentors will offer much-needed advice on how to overcome the hurdles by sharing their own experiences in an intimate and personal way.”

The Bias Barriers: Gender, Race and Age

Women of Color Face the Greatest Obstacles

  • The entrepreneur sample by gender and race for the study includes: 45% white women, 31% white men, 12% women of color, and 12% men of color.

  • Gender bias (41%) is the highest reported challenge among entrepreneurs followed by (33%) racial bias.

  • Entrepreneurs of color are 30% more likely to lack access to capital and/or a relevant network of people. Women of color face the greatest access obstacle with 50% stating that they’ve experienced a lack of network access and 47% a lack of capital access.

  • Age bias is felt on both ends of the spectrum with 60% of entrepreneurs ages 18 to 25 and 35% of entrepreneurs age 46 and up believing that it’s a roadblock in building a business. 

The Health Conundrum: Physical and Mental

Entrepreneurship Can Boost the Mental Health of Female Founders

  • Nearly half (44%) of entrepreneurs who have built a sustainable business say their physical health has sharply declined since starting the business with a direct impact on weight gain or weight loss (32%), sleep deprivation (29%), weak muscle tone (24%), poor nutrition (18%), and drinking, smoking and/or drug use (13%).

  • BUT, more so than their male counterparts, women (38%) – particularly women that are part of the LGBTQ community (42%), women of color (42%), and women that are age 46 and up (41%) – experience mental health benefits from being their own boss as a result of being masters of their own destiny.

The Relationship Red Flags: Single, Married and Divorced

Married Entrepreneurs Are More Likely to Succeed

  • If you want to be an entrepreneur, being married actually helps. In fact, the couple that builds a business together stays together.

    • 70% of the total respondents are married or living with a long-term partner, which is 13% higher than the national marriage average – leading one to surmise that matrimony is a facilitator for entrepreneurship.

    • It’s those that are married that claim to have greater access to funds to live while starting or growing their business: 22% married vs. 13% not married.

    • And, surprisingly, 76% report a positive impact on their marriage if the spouse is a full partner in or employed by the business.

  • “It’s not you. It’s the business.”

    • 37% of single entrepreneurs report the business contributed to their not having a partner.

    • 47% of divorced entrepreneurs report the business was a factor in their divorce.

    • 82% of married entrepreneurs indicate at least one negative impact on their marriage, such as creating stress around keeping up with household tasks (56%), financial stress (48%) and lack of sex (47%).

    • 40% of women entrepreneurs who do not have children say the demands of their business contributed to not having children (vs. 23% among male entrepreneurs).


NPR surveyed a sample of 627 U.S.-based entrepreneurs via an online survey that was conducted between June 22 and August 1, 2018. Survey participants were comprised of How I Built This podcast listeners, attendees of How I Built This live events, social media followers of the brand and How You Built That Facebook group members.

Read the full study findings at:

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