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Majority of business owners are not ‘entrepreneurs’

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At a time when entrepreneurs are widely hailed the key to economic recovery, new research revealed that most people on the frontline of the movement don’t consider themselves ‘entrepreneurs’.

The survey, conducted by business software and services provider Sage, says a lot about the attitude and motivation behind running a business in 21st century Britain. Business owners perceive themselves as “business owners” (53 per cent), “self employed” (26 per cent) or “businessmen/women” (15 per cent), but think that entrepreneurship is related to innovation rather than business leadership.

Almost half of all respondents (44 per cent) believe that an entrepreneur is someone who has ideas that bring innovation to business, but just one in four (25 per cent) associate the term with someone who has set up or runs their own business.

At last week’s Investec Entrepreneurs’ Summit we celebrated mid-sized business owners as one of the most important elements of Britain’s economy, and as entrepreneurs. Attitude and appetite for risk and innovation as a recipe for growth was a topic in the minds of many speakers, driving the discussion on one panel after another.

The Sage research again highlights the strong link between entrepreneurs and innovation in the mind of 21st century business owners. Almost half of all respondents believe that an entrepreneur is defined by having ideas that bring innovation to business – and see that as a central component to success.

This attitude might just be a sign of a lack of confidence amongst mid-sized business owners, who don’t feel they are being addressed in countless speeches, articles and government initiatives that cite Britain’s entrepreneurs as the key to revitalising the UK economy.

“[Business owners] think of an entrepreneur as someone who has innovation in their DNA, but not necessarily the drive or basic business skills to succeed,” Lee Perkins, Managing Director for Sage’s Small Business Division, explained. “Ideas are vital, but for a business to discover itstrue potential the company must be grounded in reality and guided byan owner with a sound understanding of financial information.”

There is a feeling amongst respondents that the term entrepreneur describes someone who is an ideas generator and somewhat removed from their business; think Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.

“At a time when the UK Government is introducing measures to support start-ups and small businesses through incentives and grant support, translating new business goals and ideas into reality is a significant possibility for many. Pairing the right combination of business planning with drive and passion is the key to long term success,” said Perkins.

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