With New Technology, Start-Ups Go Lean

New businesses are getting off the ground with nearly half as many workers as they did a decade ago, as the spread of online tools and other resources enables start-ups to do more with less.

The change, which began before the recession, may be permanent, according to some analysts.

"There's something long-term at work here," says Dane Stangler, research director at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., research group.

Start-ups are now being launched with an average of 4.9 employees, down from 7.5 in the 1990s, according to a recent Kauffman Foundation study. In 2009, new independent businesses created a total of 2.3 million jobs, more than 700,000 fewer jobs than the annual average through 2008, the study found.

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