Few SME Owners See Themselves As Entrepreneurs

Many SME Owners Are Uncomfortable With The Title 'Entrepreneur'


Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

A significant number of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners in the UK do not like to class themselves as entrepreneurs, despite the fact they have set up their own business, according to a new report.

AXA Business Insurance carried out a survey involving small business owners, which found just 52 per cent of men who run their company like the term entrepreneur, while only 38 per cent of female SME owners are happy using the title.

Managing director at AXA Darrell Sansom offered one possible reason for this, stating: "I think it's partly explained by the word 'rich' - the idea an entrepreneur is someone who flies in from New York every day.

"It's also this notion of being a 'risk taker', which is rather uncomfortable. Risk is a huge part of any business - just as much for a man in a van with a plastering business as for a tycoon."

However, poll results showed that tradesmen were more likely to identify with the word entrepreneur than those working in finance, architecture or a creative role.

The results suggest that individuals who set up their own business want to be recognised for their hard work and skills, rather than be seen as a so-called 'Wall Street type' - a view that may have been somewhat encouraged by the media.

Regional variations were seen within the responses, with 60 per cent of SME owners in the north-east using the title, compared to 50 per cent of those based in Scotland and 39 per cent throughout the rest of England.

There could also be something of a generational gap in how people view the term entrepreneur, as the survey found 82 per cent of small business owners aged between 16 and 24 like to use the title, but only 32 per cent of over-55s used it.

AXA also looked at entrepreneurial idols, finding that 53 per cent of respondents admired Richard Branson, while 11 per cent wanted to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alan Sugar. Bill Gates won four per cent of the votes and James Dyson, Peter Jones and Steve Jobs took joint fourth place with three per cent apiece.

Expert Opinion
This research has put an interesting spotlight on how small business owners like to view themselves, particularly how a simple title can be preferred by some, but not by others.

"However, while the way SME owners choose to refer to themselves may vary, it is indisputable that such talented people have an important role to play as the economy continues to improve.

"Another issue which is hard to argue against is how such people often need support in order to get the best out of their operations and ideas. The importance of legal advice and support should not be overlooked in this regard and we would urge anyone looking to develop a new venture to ensure they always talk their plans through with a lawyer."
Steven Beahan, Partner