The UK has a population of almost seven million latent entrepreneurs, who have advanced plans for a business but are being held back from launching, according to a national survey of 8,500 people conducted by AXA Business Insurance*.
These people account for 13 per cent of the population and are drawn from all walks of life and demographics. If these plans were realised they would massively boost the UK’s private sector economy which currently numbers 4.8 million businesses. Crucially, the survey only considered people who could articulate a concrete business idea and practical steps already taken to realise it.
Percentage of local population planning a business
1. London – 19 per cent
2. Wales – 13 per cent
3. North West – 12 per cent
4. North East and West Midlands – 11 per cent
5. East Midlands and Scotland – 10 per cent
6. Yorkshire and Humber, East Anglia, South East – 9 per cent
7. Northern Ireland – 8 per cent
The biggest untapped source of business activity is among the under 25’s, where 27 per cent a business idea and wish to start it. Holding them back is not concern about getting funding or lack of qualifications, but rather a feeling that business and finance skills had been ‘missed out’ during their education.
Among all demographics, six in ten of these budding entrepreneurs said they needed to acquire crucial skills or training before they could set up. Only half of them – 37 per cent – said the courses and training they need are available and accessible to them.
With formal opportunities absent, 57 per cent said they will try and gain skills online, and 37 per cent even said they would use Youtube tutorials. AXA points out that self-help may be inadequate, as startups that access formal support and skills training have a better chance of survival.
The most sought after, but least available courses were: Business Management, Marketing, Finance and Digital Skills. Expense was the top barrier to further education, followed by a lack of the right courses at local institutions. In England people were three times more likely to point to these deficiencies than in Scotland.
Just one in ten said they felt there was good startup support available to them. The exception was Wales, the UK’s fastest growing economy which has seen significant digital investment and promotion of the tech economy in recent years. Welsh people are three times more likely to know about the available support and rate it ‘good’. Swansea was also rated top among UK cities for its startup ecosystem.
When asked who they would turn to for knowledge and advice on starting a business, just 15 per cent named a governmental, local authority, banks or other institutional sources. Instead, 19 per cent said they didn’t expect anyone to help them. Most (52 per cent) will turn to family members, particularly mum and dad.