Why "start-up stigma" is holding back entrepreneurs

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Date: 5 March 2024

A woman is updating her business plan as her business grows

Societal pressures to conform and lack of support from friends and family are key barriers for people that want to start their own business, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 people across the UK, conducted by Venture Planner, has revealed some of the key factors that stop aspiring entrepreneurs from following their dreams to start a business. The findings suggest that there is a "start-up stigma" that can discourage those that want to become their own boss.

The pressure to pursue a job that is seen as more stable or traditional is holding back nearly four out of ten (38%) respondents, whilst one in five (20%) fear society's judgement and disapproval, including on social media. The survey also finds that 34% of respondents say their family and friends view starting a business as risky and reckless or something that should only be pursued if they have no other options.

A lack of preparation from mainstream education is also a key barrier. The survey finds that 41% of aspiring entrepreneurs feel that their education has not prepared them for tasks like business planning and financial management, with only 30% feeling somewhat prepared. The educational gap is profound, with 91% concerned about their ability to draft a business plan.

"Sadly, there is almost always a stigma around starting a business in Britain today. It is looked down upon as a Plan B and many don't see it as a sustainable source of income. That's in part because their formal education hasn't set them up properly to prepare for these tasks. Many wouldn't know how to do all the necessary groundwork - and that's likely because it is something that isn't taught." Alex Clansey, co-founder and ceo of Venture Planner.

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What makes a successful entrepreneur?

A new poll conducted by American Express has found that the top personality traits that entrepreneurs say account for their success are the fact that they are "motivated", "productive" and "risk-taking". Other key characteristics include being "resilient" and "brave".

The research also investigated entrepreneurs' motivations for starting a business. The most popular responses were:

  • Being your own boss (58%);
  • Improving work-life balance (46%);
  • Having a business idea to exploit (33%);
  • Making money (29%).

Overall, the study found that the majority (78%) of entrepreneurs saw starting their own business as a means of unlocking opportunities that otherwise wouldn't have been open to them. It also revealed a deep sense of pride within this community, with almost all (94%) respondents believing that the contribution entrepreneurs make to the UK economy is important.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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