The Entrepreneur Capital of the USA
Becoming one’s own boss is a life goal for a lot of people. While working their 9 to 5s, many will dream of the day when they get to make their own business decisions, set their own hours, and have a healthier work-life balance. In fact, according to a study conducted by FreshBooks in 2019, a staggering 24 million Americans wanted to leave their jobs and work for themselves by 2021. That’s more than the entire population of Florida.
With so many people looking to strike out on their own, the next few years could bring a huge wave of new ideas and new businesses. But where exactly are the next generation of American entrepreneurs going to come from?
Which State is the USA’s Entrepreneur Capital?
To find out which state contains the most budding business people, we looked at the number of new business applications made in each state in the last year (September 2020 - August 2021). We then compared these figures to each state’s population to find out which one is home to the highest number of potential entrepreneurs per person.
The Top 20 Most Entrepreneurial States by New Business Applications in 2021
- Wyoming - Around 1 in 20 people made a new business application
- Delaware - Around 1 in 25 people made a new business application
- Georgia - Around 1 in 30 people made a new business application
- Florida - Around 1 in 35 people made a new business application
- District of Columbia - Around 1 in 40 people made a new business application
- Mississippi - 1 in 45 people made a new business application
- Nevada - Around 1 in 45 people made a new business application
- Louisiana - Around 1 in 45 people made a new business application
- Utah - Around 1 in 50 people made a new business application
- Maryland - Around 1 in 50 people made a new business application
- Colorado - Around 1 in 50 people made a new business application
- South Carolina - 1 in 55 people made a new business application
- New Jersey - Around 1 in 55 people made a new business application
- Montana - Around 1 in 60 people made a new business application
- Texas - Around 1 in 60 people made a new business application
- North Carolina - Around 1 in 60 people made a new business application
- Illinois - Around 1 in 65 people made a new business application
- New York - Around 1 in 65 people made a new business application
- Alabama - 1 in 65 people made a new business application
- Michigan - 1 in 66 people made a new business application
The Entrepreneur Capital of the USA is… Wyoming
With 30,700 new business applications from its population of 577,737 people, Wyoming can be considered the state with the highest concentration of potential entrepreneurs in the USA.
The state with the smallest population, Wyoming is renowned for its sprawling landscape and national parks, including Yellowstone National Park, home of the famous hot geyser known as Old Faithful. As a result, tourism is a major contributor to the state’s economy, but it’s not only natural wonders that Wyoming is known for.
Popular department store chain JCPenney was founded in Wyoming by entrepreneur James Cash Penney. Opened in Kemmerer in 1902, the store was originally called The Golden Rule and eventually grew to become the JCPenney we know and love today with over 650 stores.
Opening a retail store has the potential to be a profitable venture for any entrepreneur. If you want to replicate JCPenney’s massive success, make sure you choose the best possible in-store payment processing option to avoid any difficulties getting started.
Delaware, the adoptive home state of President Joe Biden since 1953, makes an appearance in the research with the second-highest concentration of entrepreneurs in the USA. The Delaware population lodged 0.043 business applications per capita in the period between September 2020 and August 2021. Known as The First State due to its early ratification of the United States constitution, Delaware has spawned its fair share of innovators.
In third place, we have the southern state of Georgia, with 0.0316 new business applications per capita. A Georgia entrepreneur that any food lover should be thankful for is S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. After opening a small diner in Hapeville, Cathy set to work on developing the recipe for the perfect chicken sandwich. His hard work certainly paid off, as there are over 2,500 Chick-fil-A restaurants in the USA today.
When done well, opening a food business can be a future-proof investment. Just look at how the food industry fared over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic; while other industries suffered, the food industry grew and grew. As with retail, if you’re hoping to start your own food business, be sure to consider the best payment processing option to get your business off the ground and start accepting payments without a hitch.
While the food sector saw unprecedented success during the pandemic, the same can’t be said for all industries. A huge 20,000 businesses had to close their doors in 2020, vastly changing the face of the nation’s economy.
Looking to the future, we can only hope that more new businesses will spring up to take their place. To find out where they might come from, we checked the number of new business applications for each state from before the pandemic (2019) and after the pandemic (2021) to determine which state had the biggest increase in new business applications.
The States with the Greatest Increase in New Business Applications since COVID-19
- Mississippi - 111.94% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Georgia - 96.79% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Louisiana - 84.69% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- South Carolina - 84.52% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Alabama - 81.29% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Illinois - 69.59% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Wyoming - 66.70% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- North Carolina - 66.68% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Ohio - 66.16% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Michigan - 61.03% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Indiana - 60.38% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Tennessee - 60.23% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Delaware - 59.01% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Arkansas - 59.00% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Florida - 58.90% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Pennsylvania - 58.63% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Texas - 56.27% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Nevada - 54.99% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Maryland - 52.35% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
- Virginia - 47.18% increase in new business applications compared to 2019
Mississippi saw a staggering 112% increase in new business applications in 2021 compared to 2019. The birthplace of Oprah Winfrey and FedEx founder Fred Smith, Mississippi has already generated a considerable number of successes, and judging by the growth in new business applications it looks like that trend is set to continue.
Georgia, the third most entrepreneurial state by business applications per capita, saw the second-largest spike in new applications in 2021 compared to 2019. Going from 168,733 business applications in the year just before COVID-19 hit, to a whopping 332,044 applications over the last year, the state of Georgia has seen a major boost in the number of people hoping to become self-employed.
The South certainly shows its ambition in these rankings. Of the states with the most new entrepreneurs following COVID-19, Southern states account for 13 of the top spots. While we might have expected the rankings to be dominated by the likes of California and New York, the results tell us loud and clear that people in the South are ready to take matters into their own hands when it comes to business.
It’s important to be aware that taking matters into one’s own hands could pose a major financial challenge for potential business founders everywhere. Depending on the idea, a new business could potentially cost thousands to get off the ground. Finance is a major roadblock for a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, but starting a business needn’t always cost the earth.
The Most Frugal Entrepreneurs in the USA
By analyzing Google Trends data for the search term “start a business with no money”, we were able to discern the state with the most money-savvy entrepreneurs; those looking to start new businesses despite having little start-up capital.
Google Trends’ “interest” rating is scaled on a range of 0-100, with 100 denoting the highest level of interest in a search term (see our methodology and sources section for more information about how this is defined).
The Top 10 States with the highest search interest in “start a business with no money” (September 2020 - August 2021)
- Florida - 100
- North Carolina - 97
- New Jersey - 91
- Georgia - 88
- Texas - 86
- New York - 80
- Michigan - 68
- Pennsylvania - 62
- Illinois - 59
- California - 52
Florida takes the top spot with a search interest score of 100. Jumping up from a score of 42 in the year before COVID-19 swept the USA, the population of Florida has since more than doubled its interest in starting a business with no money.
The Southern states once again have a healthy representation in the rankings - North Carolina comes in second place with an interest rating of 97. Having been on every list so far, it’s clear that the people of North Carolina have set their sights on business success.
While it once might have seemed impossible to start a business with no money, advancements in technology have changed this view. From software development to consulting, anyone can start a lucrative business with only a laptop and a wifi connection.
If you want to be your own boss, but are worried about a lack of start-up capital, you could consider becoming a payment processing sales agent. There are countless benefits to becoming an independent sales agent, but being your own boss while having the support of a payment partner behind you can be a significant advantage.
The Most Digitally-Savvy Entrepreneurs
By checking the Google interest ratings for “start an online business”, we discovered which states were home to the highest number of potential digital entrepreneurs. Whether they’re interested in becoming sales agents or software developers, the residents of these states could soon be founding our new favorite online businesses.
The Top 10 States with the highest search interest in “start an online business” (September 2020 - August 2021)
- Michigan - 100
- North Carolina - 71
- New York - 70
- Illinois - 69
- Ohio - 67
- Florida - 61
- California - 57
- Georgia - 51
- Pennsylvania - 48
- New Jersey - 47
Michigan takes the lead with an interest rating of 100, up from 84 before COVID-19. The state is widely known as the center of the automotive industry in the USA, but if these results are anything to go by, we might see Michigan’s economy moving away from traditional manufacturing and towards more modern, digitally-led businesses.
If you’re interested in starting an online business, for example, an eCommerce store, take time to carefully consider your payment processing options as accepting credit card payments will be a major aspect of your operations. You may also want to brush up on PCI compliance.
So there you have it - the most entrepreneurial states in the USA! The data goes to show that people don’t need to live in major financial centers to have high ambitions and an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether someone would like to start a humble chicken restaurant in Georgia or an online store in Mississippi, as long as they have the enthusiasm and dedication to make it happen, any state could be the home to the next big thing in business.
Methodology and sources
- We referred to census.gov for the number of business applications across each state. This was cross-referenced with the most up-to-date population figures available for each state.
- How Google Trends defines their ‘interest’ scores: “Values are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location, a value of 50 indicates a location which is half as popular. A value of 0 indicates a location where there was not enough data for this term. [...] A higher value means a higher proportion of all queries, not a higher absolute query count. So a tiny country where 80% of the queries are for "bananas" will get twice the score of a giant country where only 40% of the queries are for "bananas".”
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