Optimistic outlook for entrepreneurs as Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off

Almost half of UK entrepreneurs (48%) predict the enterprise environment will improve in the next two years and just 2% forecast any further decline, according to new research released today by Youth Business International (YBI) to mark the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 hosted by YBI in partnership with Barclays.

Looking at the recent past, more than two thirds (70%) said the situation for UK entrepreneurs has stagnated or worsened over the last two years and more than a third (34%) admitted they had considered giving up their business and returning to employment as a result of their experiences during the recession.

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However, the Future Gazing report from YBI, which examined the views of 100 UK entrepreneurs* on the future of UK enterprise also revealed that entrepreneurs are optimistic with more than a third (35%) rating the operating environment for their particular businesses as good or very good. When asked about the next five years:

  • Three quarters (74%) expect to see the number of businesses being set up increase
  • Just 9% forecast a decline in the number of start ups getting off the ground

When asked where the main opportunities for UK start ups will lie between now and 2017, entrepreneurs identify local and regional markets (25%), and global markets (17%) as having much better prospects than national (7%) and European (4%) markets.

The research was released at the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 launch event at The Wayra Academy London. It was the first of more than 2,500 events, involving an estimated 200,000 people. The Week, hosted by YBI in partnership with Barclays, aims to pass on the practical help and support needed by start ups seeking to grow and individuals considering setting up their own business. Global Entrepreneurship Week takes place simultaneously in 115 countries and is the world's biggest campaign to promote entrepreneurship.

Andrew Devenport, Chief Executive of Youth Business International, said: "That two in five entrepreneurs cite global opportunities as being of importance reflects our own experiences of helping entrepreneurs set up in more than 30 countries. There is so much potential for growth when start-ups make global connections - be it to establish trading partnerships, replicate successful business models or to swap shared experiences. During Global Entrepreneurship Week and in the coming months new and exciting businesses will emerge across the globe and we can all help them by passing on our knowledge and expertise."

Entrepreneurs predict that the main developments that will allow them to grow their business over the next five years will be an increased ability to access funding from multiple sources or collaboratively, opportunities presented by online technology and the economy recovering.

This is echoed in the skills sets that respondents believed entrepreneurs will need to develop between now and 2017. Top three skills development areas were social media, digital and IT skills (named by 68%), financial management skills (57%) and marketing (48%). People management skills were deemed less important - cited by just 32% - despite being crucial if a fledgling business is to grow.

Andrew Devenport continues, "Building entrepreneurs' skills through mentoring and knowledge sharing is incredibly important, and I'd like to see more businesses seeking out these kinds of non-financial types of support - which are widely available from a variety of sources. The events running during Global Entrepreneurship Week are testament to that."

Many of the entrepreneurs questioned call for young people to develop an ‘employ yourself' attitude, starting up their own businesses rather than trying to get a job when faced with high youth unemployment and university fees. Half the respondents believe starting a business is already a more viable career choice for young people than entering the traditional job market. This figure rises to 70% looking ahead five years. In addition, 41% believe a greater focus on enterprise in school and college education would have the greatest effect on encouraging UK start ups and a quarter (24%) think the same about an increased understanding of the funding landscape.

Sue Hayes, Managing Director of Business Banking at Global Entrepreneurship Week partner, Barclays, said: "We help and support hundreds of small businesses every week, and recognise the need for timely, practical advice to help them start-up and expand. Through Barclays Money Skills we are helping young people to build the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to manage their money more effectively. Likewise, we are running more than 100 free Barclays Get Ready for Business events aimed at budding entrepreneurs during November."

IT and telecoms, named by 56% of respondents, was predicted as the biggest growth sector for those wanting to start up a business over the next five years, followed by social enterprise (54%), creative industries (51%) and the green economy (51%) were predicted as the best sectors for those wanting to start up a business over the next five years to target.