Risking it all to go it alone


First-time entrepreneurs in the UK are prepared to risk everything by starting businesses with little or no adequate training or planning, according to new research.

The research, commissioned on behalf of Learndirectbusiness ,found that an overwhelming 98 per cent of budding entrepreneurs set up shop without any training.

The survey also revealed the huge price entrepreneurs were willing to pay in pursuit of their business dream:

More than one in ten (11 per cent) said they would risk their relationship with their partner, while a quarter (26 per cent) were prepared to get into heavy debt. One in three claimed they were prepared to risk losing all their savings.

A foolish four per cent were even willing to risk their health for their business.

Yet the risks of failure are very real, with a insufficient planning emerging as a key issue amongst UK entrepreneurs.

A quarter of respondents felt they were unprepared before they started their own business with a further eight per cent saying that they were ‘very unprepared’ before opening the doors for trading.

With such a large number realising they were unprepared it is perhaps no surprise that more than four out of ten (42 per cent) of all respondents gave ‘fear of job insecurity’ as the biggest barrier to starting a business in the first place.

With just under 380,000 businesses closing in 2003 alone, the research revealed that almost all the respondents – some 98 per cent - had never undertaken any business training before starting up in business.

But despite the stress and risks involved, being a successful entrepreneur still its attractions, with three-quarters of respondents suggested that being their own boss is the number one reason for running their own business.

Quality of life was far less of a lure, however, with only 17 per cent saying that they enjoyed better work-life balance and a mere seven per cent citing the share of the profits it gave them.

Learndirectbusiness spokeswoman Sarah Turpin urged entrepreneurs not to ‘Risk It All’, but rather invest in business training early on:

“The research findings demonstrate that this country’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Unfortunately what it also demonstrates is the unnecessary risks those entrepreneurs are still willing to take.

"The relatively small costs involved with undertaking business training could prove to be critical in saving a business in the long run. We must continue to emphasise the importance of education and training to build a long term sustainable business."

Significantly, three-quarters of those surveyed said that they now realise the importance of training and agreed with the statement that they would be interested in attending first time or refresher courses.

The importance of training in hindsight is also something that is not lost on existing entrepreneurs, with nine out of ten agreeing they could still improve their business through education and training.