Appetite for entrepreneurship is strong but some believe it best to wait for stability

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A fifth of UK adults want to start their own business this year according to a new report


A fifth of UK adults want to start their own business this year but some are still cautious, wanting either further support or a less uncertain environment.

The UK’s Start-up Appetite, a report conducted on behalf of small business support network Enterprise Nation and Government-backed funding scheme Start Up Loans, found many still have entrepreneurial spirit despite the struggles 2020 gave us.

Of the 2,000 participants surveyed, around 400 want to start a new business from scratch this year, while a further ten per cent already have done or have a plan in motion to set up in the coming months. 

A fifth of UK adults want to start their own business this year according to a new report

This comes as the UK – one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world – has dealt with one of its toughest years yet, which has seen many businesses fail.

But this hasn’t completely dampened spirits as many hope to rise from the ashes while others who have only ever been employed are finally thinking about going solo.

This has been boosted by the huge number of people furloughed when the Job Retention Scheme was launched in the spring last year, and many people remain furloughed.    

Sadly, others have been made redundant, however this group is even more likely to start something new and on their own terms. Six per cent confirmed their plan to launch this year is a direct result of losing their job.

More than a third of the survey respondents said they've always wanted to start a new business

More than a third of the survey respondents said they’ve always wanted to start a new business

More than half of those expecting to launch a business in 2021 say it will start as a side hustle

More than half of those expecting to launch a business in 2021 say it will start as a side hustle

But even those still in work have a new-found appetite for entrepreneurship. More than half of those expecting to launch their business in 2021 say it will start off as a side hustle. 

They said they would prefer to work on their new venture on evenings and weekends, while a quarter said they wanted to start a full-time enterprise. This figure rose to 57 per cent among those with active plans to start in 2021.  

A fresh start 

Meanwhile, more than a third of respondents said they had always wanted to start a business and that figure rose to 42 per cent among women. 33 per cent said they could see an opportunity while another third said it was to top up income.

Start-up ambition has grown among younger people in particular, with 34 per cent of 18 to 34 year-olds interested in taking the plunge. 

UK adults aged 55 and over appear to agree with the results with 23 per cent claiming setting up a new business is for the young.

Enterprise Nation's Emma Jones said the start-up spirit in the UK remains strong

Enterprise Nation’s Emma Jones said the start-up spirit in the UK remains strong

They believe younger people are more likely to see opportunity and have ideas whereas older people capitalise on skills and experience. 

What’s more, almost half of 18 to 34 year-olds also feel it is easier to become an entrepreneur than it was ten years ago.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: ‘If you are interested in starting your own business – it looks like you’re going to be a little younger, and you’ll do it as a side-hustle outside of your normal job or education. 

‘This makes sense given the lower economic risks younger people face. They are also more likely to think it is easier than ever.’

However, 28 per cent of 35 to 54 year-olds surveyed are also interested in becoming their own boss.

Uncertain times 

Just over a quarter said they can see new ways of working and want to be part of it, while 18 per cent think a recession is actually a great time to start a business.

But 12 per cent of those surveyed, despite their ambition, still feel they need more information and support before going it alone, and a further eight per cent have completely put off their entrepreneurial journey until there is a bit more stability in the economy.   

Emma added: ‘The start-up spirit in the UK is still going strong, but what’s also clear is that there is an unmet need for providing early-stage support and education or signposting what’s already out there to people interested in starting a business.

‘2020 will go down on record as the year we all made a mindful decision to support small businesses, even Google searches doubled. 

StartUp goes online

Enterprise Nation’s annual StartUp event, which sees more than 2,000 attendees is going digital this year on 23 January.

It has retained its packed day-long business itinerary, starting at 9.30am and closing at 4.00pm.

The 11 virtual zones have been designed to cover a wide variety of topics to help provide the tools, support and guidance an aspiring entrepreneur needs to start and grow their own business. 

There will be over 60 sessions and 100 speakers to choose from, including established business owners, Enterprise Nation advisers and SME experts including This is Money’s very own Jayna Rana.

Tickets are available for just £10 here and will also include access to recordings of the day’s sessions, so you can catch up at your leisure.

‘While that’s unsurprising given the economic context, the brilliant thing is that considering everything we’ve heard about how the business community has fared, good and bad, there is still a relentless passion for enterprise even if there is a little more caution than there used to be.

‘As we re-boot the British economy, this is the ambition we all need to get us through.’

Meanwhile, one in five respondents said they felt they needed to get training before they started their new business. 

What and where?

The survey also asked budding entrepreneurs which industries they were thinking of setting up their new venture in, with the health and wellbeing sector being the most popular at 11 per cent.

This was followed by manufacturing, technology and business services which reflects the current sectors that remained stable or were boosted by the pandemic and resulting lifestyle changes and behaviours.

For example, the lockdown exercise phenomenon appears to be playing on minds while fears for post-Brexit shortages has seen ambition to make something in the UK. 

In terms of regions, the West Midlands was home to most people that said they were actively planning to start a business in 2021, where the most popular sector was overwhelmingly manufacturing at 31 per cent.

In the North West, the most popular sector was tech, and in Wales it was Education. Health and wellbeing was most popular in London, the South West and South East. 

The regions where people are most likely to have put off their plans to more certain times were in the North East and the South East. 

The lockdown exercise phenomenon is playing on the minds of aspiring entrepreneurs

The lockdown exercise phenomenon is playing on the minds of aspiring entrepreneurs

How much does it cost to set up your own business? 

Thinking of going solo? Setting up a remote business in the UK costs just £1,680 according to a new study by Small Business Prices.

This includes everything from registering your business, buying a new laptop and a web domain, to invoicing software and business phone numbers.

The price comparison website for SMEs looked into the cost of launching a remote business from scratch, as many Brits take this challenging time as an opportunity to start afresh in their career.

Whether this is setting up your own full-time solo-business, going freelance or setting up side-hustle selling products online, the study found the following costs associated with going solo.  

Small Business Essentials

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