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Self-employment in California

In 2019, we released our third annual FreshBooks Self-Employment in America Report, polling 3,700 full-time workers across the U.S. We found more than 15 million Americans have taken the leap and decided to pursue self-employment – and another 24 million want to join their ranks in the next two years.

Beyond looking at a national snapshot of entrepreneurs across America, we wanted to dig a little deeper into the state of California – after all, it’s one of the world’s biggest hubs for entrepreneurship and innovation. 1 in 8 self-employed people in the U.S. live in California, and 1 in 3 small business owners in California are serial entrepreneurs. On average, they’re now working on their third business.

Check out our infographic below to learn how entrepreneurs in the Golden State are growing their businesses, while helping shape the world of self-employment and the future of work.


A snapshot of California’s entrepreneurs
It’s no wonder the world looks to Silicon Valley and California when it comes to embracing entrepreneurship. 31% of Californian entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs after working just 2 – 5 years in traditional jobs, while 27% of other state entrepreneurs worked in traditional jobs for as long as 10 years before striking out on their own.

In addition, self-employed Californians start building their businesses at a younger age than entrepreneurs in most other U.S. states. The average entrepreneur in California is 40 years old, compared to 42 years old elsewhere in the U.S.


Californian entrepreneurs are lonelier, more stressed
Despite California being a beacon for startups around the world, California’s entrepreneurs are some of the loneliest in the U.S. About 31% of Californian entrepreneurs said they’re lonelier now that they work for themselves, compared to when they held traditional jobs. Just 19% of entrepreneurs across the U.S. said the same.

Adding to the loneliness, more than a quarter of Californian entrepreneurs say they’re stressed. 28% of Californian entrepreneurs say they still feel stressed about work, even after becoming self-employed. 64% of Californian entrepreneurs say they have to work harder to succeed, compared to when they held traditional jobs. That’s compared to 59% of entrepreneurs across the U.S.

Finally, Californian entrepreneurs say they feel less certain about their career trajectory than their counterparts in other states. Just 42% said they feel certain about their careers, compared to 51% across the U.S. 


Beyond feeling lonelier and more stressed than the average American entrepreneur, Californian entrepreneurs are typically more concerned with their finances. 


Despite all of the challenges of self-employment, the majority of Californian entrepreneurs struck out on their own to pursue greater fulfillment in their careers.


How Californian entrepreneurs wish they were supported
As with other self-employed professionals across America, Californian entrepreneurs are fairly split as to how they think they could be better supported by all levels of government. 56% of Californian entrepreneurs feel there should be more government policies and structures in place to help them succeed, compared to 59% nationally.

In addition, 43% of Californian entrepreneurs feel the U.S. tax system favours people with traditional jobs over entrepreneurs and small business owners. That’s compared to 51% of entrepreneurs across the U.S.

68% of Californian entrepreneurs feel policymakers and legislators are out of touch with how the world of work is changing, compared to 70% of entrepreneurs across the U.S. Ahead of 2020, an election year, 23% of Californian entrepreneurs say they would change political affiliations if a government party showed significant support for small businesses. That’s compared to 21.5% nationally.


About FreshBooks

FreshBooks is the #1 invoicing and accounting software designed exclusively for self-employed professionals and their teams. The company has helped more than 20 million people worldwide process billions of dollars with its ridiculously easy-to-use invoicing, time-tracking, online payments and expense management features. Recognized with eight Stevie awards for best customer service in the world, the company’s mantra is to “execute extraordinary experiences everyday.” Based in Toronto, Canada, FreshBooks serves paying customers in 160 countries. www.FreshBooks.com

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