Understanding Entrepreneurs

Earlier this month, we partnered with The Telegraph to launch Entrepreneurial Britain, a large-scale research initiative designed to get under the skin of our entrepreneurial culture.

Entrepreneurs are an increasingly essential contributor to the UK’s economic growth and social progress. Through the creation of new products, services and jobs, or through personal investment in education and local communities, we rely on entrepreneurs across all tiers of the economy.

But what is it that compels some people to set up their own business? We set out to understand what makes entrepreneurs tick and what possesses some people to take the bull by the horns and set up a business.  Most of us may assume that profit and money making are the core reasons for taking on risk and hard work.  However, when we spoke to entrepreneurs during our depth interviews, it quickly became evident that motivations behind setting up and running our businesses are much more multidimensional and complex than just the accumulation of wealth.

“My main motivation is getting stuff done and being able to do loads of different roles, adding value and giving back to society”

Imogen, Founder of Qudini

This was further reinforced during our quantitative research when we asked our 1,000 entrepreneurs what motivated them in setting up and running their own business.  Overall, our participants agreed that an average of six motivations were important to them in setting up their business.

Becoming our own boss doesn’t often come through necessity, with only a quarter of our entrepreneurs agreeing that they became an entrepreneur because they needed to and had no alternative.  Rather, the decision is a more conscious choice, stemming not solely from a desire for financial rewards (only 54% argue this was the case) but rather a combination of lifestyle factors.  The most common motivation from our research was, in fact, the control that owning and running a business presents – a massive eight in ten entrepreneurs agreeing that this motivates them.  A significant proportion of our sample also found the ability to find a better work-life balance (76%) was a motivating factor, as is the independence that being our own boss offers (78%).

There is also hope for us who don’t necessarily think we are a ‘natural entrepreneur’ as only 30% of SME owners in our sample thought that this was an important motivator for them.  It would seem that being an entrepreneur is not just for those that were born to it.

Source: OMD UK/The Telegraph, Entrepreneurial Britain, Q Q15. On a scale of 1 – 5, when thinking about your motivations for starting/running your business, to what extent do the following statements apply to you? Base: All (1,079)

 

So it seems that the assumption that entrepreneurs are solely motivated by the accumulation of wealth is both unfair and an over-simplification of the truth.  In reality, the desire to live a balanced and fulfilling life is much more important to these groups than profits.  Understanding these motivations can help both brands and media owners develop meaningful communications that resonate with the entrepreneur of today.

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Sarah Gale

Sarah has worked in research and insight for nearly 20 years and it really shows. She likes nothing more than trying to come up with new and interesting ways to provide insight into how we live our lives today. Sarah loves a challenge, is hugely tenacious and once won the MRS ‘Talent Magnet’ for young researchers. She hopes to now win the same award for old researchers.

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