While academic research concerning capital structure of large corporations has been abundant in the finance literature, studies of small firms have been somewhat less common, and investigation of capital structure at origin (start-up) has been virtually nil. In this paper we present empirical evidence concerning the start-up capital structures of small firms. We base this investigation upon characteristics of both owner and firm. We find the percent of the owner's income expected to be derived from the business to be positively associated with debt use and the owner's age to be negatively associated with debt use. We find that more debt is obtained if the business owner is married and less if he or she is black. Similarly, more debt is prevalent among start-up firms in transportation and utilities than those in other industries. When debt obtained from other than financial institutions is considered, factors such as gender, experience, education, and expected firm size also play a role in the structure of start-up capital.

JEL Codes

L25, G32, M13


Financing , Small Firm, Small Business, Startup, Debt, Lending