It’s not about the money

Dec 22 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

More than four out of ten young entrepreneurs in the UK would never be enticed into being an employee whatever salary they were offered, and a further eight per cent would only be prepared to become an employee for an annual salary in excess of £1 million.

A survey of 208 entrepreneurs carried out by Shell LiveWIRE, an enterprise support service for young people, has found that young entrepreneurs are driven into business by a desire to ‘be their own boss’ and ‘to put their own ideas into action’.

This is despite the fact that nine out of ten said that they had less time for themselves and six out of ten said they were working up to 70 hours per week.

The commitment of young entrepreneurs - two thirds of whom were aged between 26 and 35 - also appears to be matched by their success. More than nine out of ten surveyed businesses showed a profit and more than eight out of ten have expanded since they were founded.

Every entrepreneur had a number of different reasons for starting their business. Four out of ten said that they wanted ‘to be their own boss’ and more than a third started up their business to ‘put their own ideas into action’. Among the least common reasons cited for starting a business were; ‘making money’ and ‘being unhappy in a previous job’ and/or ‘having no job security’.

Although eight out of ten of the businesses surveyed were ‘micro’ businesses employing between zero and nine people, more than eight out of ten reported growth after their first year in business and nearly a quarter of the respondents are also involved in one or more additional business ventures.

However personnel and staffing issues were also cited as the biggest challenges in running a business, followed by finance and ‘being taken seriously’.

Almost nine out of ten young entrepreneurs identified with a role model, with Virgin’s Richard Branson the most popular and other well-known business figures such as the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, vacuum cleaner pioneer James Dyson and Coffee Republic’s Sahar Hashemi also figuring on the list.

One interesting finding from the survey was that nearly seven out of ten of those surveyed were aware of the term ‘sustainable development’ and a third had a written sustainable development policy. Almost half also planned to invest more time integrating sustainability into their business.

Clive Mather, Chairman of Shell UK, said: “Today, the ‘enterprise culture’ is firmly rooted in the UK and it offers many young people positive and viable career choices. Our research shows that young people are not only capable of setting up and running profitable businesses but of also fuelling business growth, creating wealth and generating new jobs."