‘Can do’ generation of UK entrepreneurs emerges from the gloom

6 years ago

New report depicts next generation of entrepreneurs as resilient, accountable and optimistic.

Everyone’s Business‘ – a new report released earlier this month (Thursday 15th November 2012) suggests a ‘can-do’ generation of young entrepreneurs is emerging from the credit crunch. This new breed of UK entrepreneur is resilient, optimistic and despite popular belief, does not blame broader economic challenges for business failure.

The Demos research, launched to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Shell LiveWIRE – an independent and free online service for young entrepreneurs – found that 4 in 5 (83%) UK entrepreneurs do not believe macro-economic factors will decide the future success or otherwise of their business. In fact, it is estimated that up to 253,000 new companies have joined the ranks of the UK’s 4.6million private sector businesses despite less than ideal economic circumstances over the course of the past year.*

Innovators shoulder responsibility

The ’Everyone’s Business’ research, which canvassed opinion from almost 1,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, including members of the Shell LiveWIRE online community, highlights how business innovators are shouldering complete responsibility for their business failures – 82% of entrepreneurs believe that if their business fails it is because their idea was insufficiently strong or has been undermined by factors aside from the economy, such as not being determined enough.

Surprisingly, for these ‘can do’ individuals, money is not a motivator with only 15% saying they are spurred to enterprise as a result of money – instead they are driven by a desire to work for themselves and by a passion to turn ideas and concepts into a reality. The research also highlights the support most valued by this new generation of evolutionary entrepreneurs – 47% find advice lent by existing businesspeople more useful than traditional or institutional models, such as advice from Jobcentre Plus (2%), banks (2%) and University careers services (18%).

‘Evolutionaries’ not ‘Revolutionaries’

Deconstructing the British entrepreneur stereotype further, the report identifies that rather than being ‘revolutionaries’ driven by a light-bulb moment – most young entrepreneurs are ‘evolutionaries.’ Over 70% of those surveyed describe their business as evolutionary, stating that their business idea either replicates or improves upon existing business models within their sector – countering the common perception that successful entrepreneurs have to be cutting-edge inventors.

Graham van’t Hoff, Chairman, Shell UK, said: “After three decades of supporting UK enterprise through Shell LiveWIRE, it’s no surprise to us at Shell that a new ‘can do’ generation of entrepreneurs is emerging from the economic gloom. Their energy, resilience and innovation are critical to delivering the jobs and economic growth the country needs.”

“Shell LiveWIRE has been running in the UK since 1982 and has helped thousands of young people in the UK by offering an independent and free online service and awards programme for young entrepreneurs. Innovation is central to meeting society’s challenges and it’s why at Shell, we champion innovation both in young entrepreneurs and our own business.”

Duncan O’Leary, Deputy Director of Demos and co-author of the report said: “This reveals a picture of entrepreneurship that is far more realistic than the stereotype of mad cap inventor appearing on Dragons’ Den. The message from the report is not all about revolutionary ideas and ‘light bulb moments’. Aspiring entrepreneurs believe that a can-do attitude, some start-up capital and a dose of luck can go a long way to creating a successful business.”

Download the ‘Everyone’s Business’ report (PDF, 652KB)

Background to the research

The report, ‘Everyone’s Business’, by Duncan O’Leary and Max Wind-Cowie was published by Demos on Thursday 15 November 2012.

The polling within the report was carried out by Demos and Shell LiveWIRE. The 919 participants in the online poll were those who self identified as aspiring entrepreneurs including members from the Shell LiveWIRE online community. The poll took place in October 2012.

*BIS, Business Population Estimates for the UK and the Regions, statistical release, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2012, www.bis.gov.uk/assets/BISCore/statistics/docs/B/12-92-bpe-2012-stats-release.pdf

What do you think?

If you’re a UK start-up or small business, what do you think of the report? Do you agree with the results? Feel free to leave a comment below, on our Facebook Page or by posting a Tweet including the hashtag #SageOne.

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