Experts say the economic downturn has brought new interest in self-employment from people having a difficult time finding well-paying jobs.
That in turn has led to significant growth in microbusiness development programs that teach skills such as business plan writing, marketing and accounting.
Interest in opening a business is especially high among immigrants and refugees. Many have low incomes and less access to employment opportunities than the general population because they have limited English language skills, lack reliable transportation or an American diploma, and are still learning how American society works.
Many of them see self-employment as a shot at the "American dream."
Microbusinesses, defined as enterprises with five or fewer employees, account for about 26 million jobs in the economy.