3 minute read

“What – no paid holidays?” asked my friend, “and no regular guaranteed monthly salary either?” was the follow-on question without a break and increasing incredulity.

“Nope,” I replied.

“And the attractions of starting and running your own business are precisely what then?” she inquired.

“Well, you are in charge of your own destiny; you have greater freedom to do your own thing and, of course, you could be financially better off than you were before. It is also likely that you will work harder and longer but be happier and more fulfilled than you have ever been before.” I replied.

“Hmmm… Hmmm… I think I’ll pass on that for just now, thank you. No paid holidays – wow!”

Well that conversation took place in March 2010.  My friend was working for a multi national organisation, and had done so for many years.  She was exceedingly good at what she did and also enjoyed it – a major reason why starting her own business was not on the agenda.  She was, therefore, typical of most of the population in the UK.  Starting your own business is not really something you want to do – it is something you have to do.  Fast forward to 2017 and she no longer works for that large multi national.  Yes, she works for herself doing something very different from her former job.  Did she want to start her own business?  No!  She had no option for the simple reason that she was made redundant and the nearest similar job was miles away from her family so something else had to be considered.

Nobody really wants to start their own business do they? Click To Tweet

Starting your own business is, first and foremost, a response to a situation. That situation can be personal, change in your life, or professional.  You can no longer carry on doing the job you are doing. Sometimes it’s both.

When I was running my Enterprise Island Challenges six years ago, up and down the country, we always started off by asking not “what is your business idea?” but “what brings you here?”  The responses were always different and you can read about them in my, The Accidental Entrepreneur’s Handbook – useful stuff for your enterprise voyage.

What they did confirm was that (we worked with about 1,300 people), deep down, nobody really wants to start their own business.  I should not have been surprised because, when I first started working in entrepreneurship or more accurately how and why people learned to be enterprising, my starting point was the quite fascinating IPSOS Mori survey carried out in Scotland in (I think) 1995.  It was looking at attitudes in Scotland to starting a business.

Only 1% of the adult Scottish population was committed to starting their own business, 15% were enthusiastic but had not done anything and 38% were ‘unmotivated potentials’.  I will write more about the ‘unmotivated potentials’ later.  But, I would like to leave you with the opportunity to take part in my own Enterprise Iain survey.

Here is my poll:

Which of the following four statements do you most agree with?

View Results

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