Entrepreneurship is an extremely important, but little understood, component of the U.S. economy. This book aids that understanding by exploring the challenges and outcomes of the start-up phases of new firms. This is the first detailed, large-scale, longitudinally-based analysis of the entrepreneurial process. Three representative samples of new firms and two representative samples of nascent entrepreneurs (those attempting to start new firms) are used to consider a variety of factors that affect successful completion of the major transitions in the life of new businesses: conception, birth, and early development (survival and growth). Surprisingly, a substantial minority of start-ups become operational new firms. Among the many lessons the authors learn are that although new firm growth appears to reflect many factors, initial size is of special consequence. Not only are many general insights for entrepreneurs revealed, but the authors also pay special attention to the involvement of women and minorities in entrepreneurship and suggest effective government policy for different stages in the entrepreneurial process.