Are Britons Too Afraid To Become Entrepreneurs?

Study Shows UK Entrepreneurs Are Lagging Behind The Rest Of The World


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Young Britons may lack the courage to set up a successful business, a new study has suggested.

According to Shell LiveWIRE and Youth Business International (YBI), around one in five 18 to 34-year-olds in the UK believe they have all the skills needed to make a positive impact in the corporate world, but only four per cent actually go on to become entrepreneurs.

The research indicated that around 49 per cent of Britons make the transition from budding businessperson to fully-fledged company owner, which is much lower than other nations.

Asia certainly dominates in this area, as the conversion rate in Singapore is 84 per cent, while China also performs strongly with a score of 82 per cent.

The US (51 per cent), Netherlands (55 per cent) and Brazil (56 per cent) all have better success rates than the UK.

Experts believe that while British youngsters might have the talent to set up their own enterprise, many think it is far too risky to go it alone and instead join an existing company.

In fact, only 56 per cent of UK would-be entrepreneurs believe it is a good idea to start a business, whereas this figure rises to 88 per cent in Brazil.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Ed Daniels, UK chairman of Shell, said the results are concerning.

"Are we giving [entrepreneurship] legitimacy in the education system? Why is it seen as a poor choice? We need to show entrepreneurs as credible engines of the economy, like Richard Branson, not as the poor choice if you can't get a job with a major corporation," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Daniels insisted the UK cannot build a vibrant economy if people are not willing to try new things and failure should not be viewed as a negative.

A report published by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and YBI earlier this year showed that young people in Europe are among the least confident in the world when it comes to starting a new company.

Only 17.3 per cent of youngsters felt there are good business opportunities available and that they have the necessary skills to succeed.

Expert Opinion
The UK has a strong track record for entrepreneurship and this report clearly highlights that the UK crucially doesn’t lack ability or talent in this area.

“Being an entrepreneur however clearly has an image problem and it is important that this is addressed. A recent study by the Centre For Entrepreneurs found that the way in which entrepreneurs were portrayed on TV was not always helpful - indeed it found that over half thought programmes such as The Apprentice would actually put people off starting a business.

“We cannot afford this to happen because start-up enterprises are the wealth creators of the future. A holistic approach is required to tackle this issue, but this is certainly one of the areas that needs to be addressed.”
Fergal Dowling, Partner