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MyOwnBusiness Institute

Reflection & Prediction

Photo of reflecting glass building and sky

Photo of reflecting glass building and sky

Reflection & Prediction: Examining Business Trends Among MOBI Students

MOBI's annual survey of certificate holders reveals similarities and differences between businesses that have already been started and those planned for the future.

As one year ends and another begins, it’s common to reflect on what has passed and predict what will come. Through this process we find inspiration to set new goals and pursue new dreams. This is true with MOBI and our amazing students around the world as well. In our recent annual survey of MOBI certificate holders, we asked about the businesses that had been started and those planned for the future. While there were some commonalities, there were differences too.

Just over half of MOBI certificate holders who responded to the survey have started businesses already. Most were started within the past three years, and 89% are still operational. When asked about the type of business started, these business owners identified five primary industries. In order of popularity, these include 1) business and professional services; 2) retail and online sales; 3) technology and information services; 4) educational services; and 5) personal services. About 60% of these businesses are run by solopreneurs, entrepreneurs who are operating the business as the sole employee. It’s common for entrepreneurs to wear many hats, and this data shows over half of MOBI entrepreneurs wear all the hats!

In comparison, 38% of MOBI certificate holders who responded to the survey have not yet started a business but plan to in the next year. These aspiring entrepreneurs have their sights set on slightly different businesses for the future. The top five business types for these respondents include 1) business and professional services; 2) retail and online sales; 3) hospitality, restaurants, and entertainment; 4) agriculture and farming; and 5) personal services.

It’s interesting to examine the differences between the businesses that have already been started and those planned for the future. Business and professional services remain the top industry for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. Today’s flexible gig economy lends itself well to side businesses and freelance work, and businesses providing services like graphic design, social media marketing, consulting, data analytics, and others often require little or no money to start. The Home-Based and Freelance Businesses session of MOBI’s Starting a Business and Quick Start Entrepreneur courses is a great resource for entrepreneurs considering these and other home-based businesses.

Another key difference is an increase in the number of entrepreneurs pursuing hospitality, restaurant and entertainment services in addition to agriculture and farming. We see some examples of this among our local MOBI students as well. Akita Gourmet is a sushi, poke, and ramen food truck business started by MOBI student and Santa Clara University Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative business client Alberto Lopez. Having established a successful food truck business in the past few years, Alberto took the next step in his dream this summer when he opened a restaurant space as well. The restaurant allows him to not only expand his business with a new location, it also provides additional kitchen space to grow his catering business too. Take-out services have become even more popular amid the pandemic, and Alberto is well poised to grow his take-out business with his new location. To learn more about how MOBI students have modified their businesses during COVID-19, read our previous post entitled, Paths to Recovery: Adapting to the Pandemic.

As we reflect on the businesses that have already come to light and think ahead to those still in the planning stages, we are inspired by the ideas and dreams of all entrepreneurs. It will be exciting to examine next year’s survey to learn whether professional services stay in the top spot as people have greater flexibility to pursue new ventures while working from home, and if restaurant, hospitality and entertainment businesses continue to climb in popularity as we find new ways to enjoy these simple pleasures of life. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our MOBI certificate holders who provided these responses and all those who help guide our content and curriculum with your feedback. Thank you!

Business, Entrepreneurship
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