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Nearly half of UK adults have considered setting up their own business, but one in two of them are too scared of failure to do anything about it, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Orange Business Services.

The survey conducted together with of over 2,481 UK adults, found that in as little as three years time the self-start business sector could be set to explode with millions of aspiring entrepreneurs currently drawing up business plans. Unfortunately, due to Britain being a nation of serial self-doubters, over a third of them could be lost – almost seven million potential start-ups.

Fear of failure is the number one barrier to starting up a new business with respondents stating low self-confidence was preventing them from going it alone, suggesting a worrying lack of faith in our business abilities.

Yet, despite their fears, 14 per cent of all adults claim to be exploring a definite idea and a further 8 per cent are on the path to making it a reality. Twenty four per cent anticipate going it alone in the next two to five years, and 14 per cent within the next one to two years.

Tim Campbell, winner of The Apprentice and a leading young UK entrepreneur comments: “That half of British people consider setting up their own business is great news for the UK economy. While it’s clear that the main barriers holding people back are emotional, as a nation we have the drive and passion. If the business community can share a few hints and tips to encourage budding entrepreneurs, people’s fears will be overcome and more dreams will become reality.”

The Orange survey also shows that the British have a positive attitude to entrepreneurs. Less than 20 per cent of people characterise successful entrepreneurs as selfish or arrogant. Instead, over 90 per cent of people associate confidence and hard work with success stories, with over 60 per cent also associating creativity and courage with success in business.

Martin Lyne, director of small business, Orange Business Services, UK, adds: “British people view enterprise positively and are enthusiastic to give it a go. And it’s not the hard skills holding us back so much as our lack of self confidence and fear of failure. Government, industry figures, community leaders and the education system can all play a part in nurturing self-belief and confidence in our would be entrepreneur workforce. The biggest discrepancy between entrepreneurial desire and fear of failure is among the young and there is a strong case to cultivate an appetite for rational risk in the education system.”

To help budding entrepreneurs overcome the emotional and practical barriers to setting up a successful business Orange Business Services is launching a series of podcasts offering expert advice, hints and tips from those who have already made the leap – and survived! The first podcast, featuring Tim Campbell, is available to download at

Further findings:

Young aspire the most, fear the most

While the young are more optimistic about their aspirations, they are also more fearful.

• 81% of 25-34 year olds are convinced they will set up their own business, against only 50% of over 55 year olds.
• Almost a half of 25-34 year olds (43%) have a fear of failure against only 37% of the older age group.
• Only 5% of these young people have all their plans in place, against 15% of those over 55.

Male/Female split

• Twice as many men as women were worried about the impact being their own boss would have on their social life.
• Lack of self confidence was more of an issue for women than men (17 per cent and 11 per cent respectively)

Brighton is Britain’s hotspot

Brighton is the nation’s entrepreneurial capital with over 50 per cent stating they have thought about starting their own business and a higher proportion (12%) than average (8%) of entrepreneurs already on the road to being their own bosses. London, Edinburgh and Birmingham follow close behind as those cities where people have considered setting up on their own.

Glasgow, Norwich, Cardiff and Plymouth are the cities where people have least considered setting up on their own.

Sector differences

• 88% of people in the media and marketing industry believe they will one day start their own business, followed by those in tourism and leisure (84%) and childcare (80%).

• However, those in the creative and design sectors or in the building industry are making most progress with 29% and 24% respectively already claiming to be exploring a definite idea.

Love, sleep and aggression

• 34% say starting a business would negatively impact their love life
• 33% say it would damage their quality of sleep
• 24% say they would likely work longer hours than today
• 33% say it would make them more aggressive and merciless.

Where wannabe entrepreneurs have got:

• Changing Rooms – 54 per cent stated that starting their own business was a dream but have not done anything about it
• Warm Up – 25 per cent are becoming more serious about turning their business dreams into reality
• Starting Blocks – 13 per cent already have a definite idea in place and have begun to research it/explore it
• Finishing Line – Eight per cent are on the path to starting their own business

For further information, call Vicky Aitken on 020 7344 1528 or

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