Business development · 1 October 2018

Is setting up a business REALLY that difficult? What’s stopping 70,000 would-be entrepreneurs?

Younger would-be entrepreneurs find starting a new business too difficult
Would-be entrepreneurs, particularly those under 35, find starting a new business too difficult.

A new report reveals Britain is missing out on 70,000 would-be entrepreneurs because of the complex and confusing process of starting up. 

So you’ve got a killer business idea, you know there’s a demand for it in the market, but you find starting a business from scratch just too hard…

Does that sound like you? If so, you’re not alone. A new report, The Great British Enterprise Opportunity, out today, reveals that over 70,000 people across the UK have the ideas and desire to set up their own business but choose not to. The main barrier for them is the process and paperwork. 

The report, commissioned by Atos and authored by Steve Hughes, a former Bank of England economist, finds that the UK could add more than a third of new businesses to the 197,000 that already exist if the process was easier.

Would-be entrepreneurs need clear and easy access information.

The numbers rise markedly for younger people with nearly half of those aged under 35 saying they are put off from starting a business as they wouldn’t know where to start and the process is too confusing.

 “The barriers to growth – both for individuals looking to start their own business, and small businesses looking to expand – are real and are holding the country back,” says Adrian Gregory, CEO Atos UK & Ireland.

There are over 1.6 million existing businesses – especially micro businesses consisting of less than 10 employees – which are failing to maximise their growth potential, according to the report.

The main reason these micro businesses are stunting their own growth is because they’re missing out on digital tools. This includes maintaining a web presence, selling online and using the cloud.

A recent report found that almost 2 million SMEs in the UK operated without a website.

The report calls for the creation of an Enterprise Account – similar to the pensions dashboard –which contains everything from how to register a business, bookkeeping services and tax liabilities to how to access specific funds, as well as specialist mentor and training schemes.

According to Rachel Maclean MP for Redditch County and vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship, these challenges require a fundamental shift.

Frankly starting a business is terrifying, and I know I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t found myself married into a family of entrepreneurs,” she says. “Anything that can be done to ease these challenges is welcome.”

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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