INDIANAPOLIS (June 27, 2023) – New research from NORC at the University of Chicago finds that more than half of all Hoosiers have participated in at least one entrepreneurial activity, which includes involvement in or steps toward business ownership or freelancing. However, the survey shows that current business planners and other potential entrepreneurs could benefit from more resources and support. The data comes from Entrepreneurship in the Population: Indiana (EPOP-IN), a survey commissioned by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP).

“A thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is a critical part of having a dynamic economy. We wanted to dive into some of the motivations that drive business owners,” said Melina Kennedy, CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. “Likewise, we wanted to identify reasons that people are hesitant to start new businesses so we can find more resources and ways to encourage entrepreneurial growth.”

According to EPOP-IN, more than 12% of Hoosiers are business owners, with Hoosier women slightly more likely to own businesses than men—a trend that runs counter to national data. In addition, Black and Hispanic Hoosiers are more likely to own businesses than white Hoosiers. Residents of the Indianapolis metro area are also more likely to own businesses (and undertake entrepreneurial activities more generally) than residents elsewhere in the state.

While a majority of Hoosiers have had some kind of experience with entrepreneurship, Hoosier business owners cited that more support is needed to grow their businesses:

  • Most Indiana business owners (54.5%) want to grow their businesses over the next five years, but only 19% of business owners are “completely” confident they have access to the support and resources needed to meet their business goals.
  • Supporting business owners with their growth goals could lead to new jobs in Indiana, especially since the vast majority of business owners (87.2%) employ less than 20 people.

More resources and support are sought by current business planners as well as those who previously engaged in business planning.

  • 59% of those planning new ventures and 67% of those who previously did some planning indicated “not knowing where to start” was a top challenge.
  • Other common challenges include not having enough savings for start-up costs, finding customers, and finding time to pursue the idea.
  • 46% of Hoosiers that withdrew from entrepreneurship planning did so because they “decided it was too risky.”

The survey also found that non-entrepreneurs are primarily disinterested in entrepreneurial activities because they are either nearing retirement, happy with their jobs, or feel like they don’t have enough savings to pursue a business idea. However, Black and Hispanic non-entrepreneurs reported a lack of savings or financial cushion as being the primary reason for disinterest in entrepreneurship at a significantly higher rate than white Hoosiers. (21% for both Black and Hispanic respondents versus 9% for white respondents.)

“CICP’s initiatives elevate the significance of entrepreneurship as core to a robust economic environment through platforms such as entrepreneurial ecosystem boosting programs and sector education events,” Kennedy said. “We are also excited to continue to work with our industry, university, and philanthropic stakeholders to explore new ways to encourage entrepreneurship for the benefit of Indiana. With findings from EPOP-IN, CICP will pursue new opportunities to bolster dynamism in Indiana’s economy.”

CICP and its branded initiatives support Hoosier entrepreneurs through programs such as:

  • TechPoint’s Venture Support, which provides an industry-led, no-cost review of entrepreneurs’ business pitch decks and provides feedback through the lens of industry and venture-ready perspectives.
  • AgriNovus Indiana’s innovation challenges that support commercialization of new business solutions aimed at addressing market opportunities in the agbiosciences.
  • Conexus Indiana’s Student Industries, a statewide program that strengthens the impact of school-based enterprises, prepares more high school students for careers in advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) while also encouraging entrepreneurship.
  • Conexus, AgriNovus, and TechPoint are also working alongside several partners, including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), to cultivate a hardtech entrepreneurial ecosystem leveraging the state’s strengths in advanced manufacturing and technology.

CICP also supports the work of other collaborating organizations, such as the IEDC to strengthen Indiana’s entrepreneurial landscape. The IEDC is investing in filling ecosystem gaps and supporting Hoosier entrepreneurs through efforts such as:

  • Launching ConnectIND, a new entrepreneurship portal that connects founders with the right resources at the right time in their entrepreneurial journey.
  • Doubling the budget of the Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to provide no-cost, confidential business advising for all Hoosier small businesses.
  • Growing the largest high school pitch competition in the U.S., Innovate WithIN, provided in partnership with the STARTedUP Foundation and with support from CICP.

The EPOP-IN survey is a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, including a robust survey of nearly 3,000 Hoosiers. It builds on the Entrepreneurship in the Population (EPOP) project, a cross-sectional annual survey on entrepreneurship NORC is conducting over five years for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the nation’s leading institutions focused on encouraging entrepreneurship.

This research was made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to CICP Foundation, Inc.

About Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP)

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) was formed in 1999 to bring together the chief executives of the region’s prominent corporations, foundations, and universities in a strategic and collaborative effort dedicated to Indiana’s continued prosperity and growth. To advance this mission, CICP sponsors five key talent and industry sector initiatives, AgriNovus IndianaAscend IndianaBioCrossroadsConexus Indiana, and TechPoint, each of which addresses challenges and opportunities unique to its respective area: agbiosciences, talent and workforce development, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and logistics, and technology. To learn more about CICP, visit