Serial Entrepreneurs will be key to the Success of UK Economy

Entrepreneurs / 3rd March 2016

A report released today by Coutts and the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) provides an overview of the depth and extent of serial entrepreneurship in the UK. The report* entitled ‘Beyond the first business: the myths, risks and rewards of being a serial entrepreneur’ combines insights from some of the UK’s leading serial entrepreneurs along with case studies and analysis.

Dylan Williams, Managing Director – England and Wales, Coutts said: “Millennials are widely challenging the notion that entrepreneurs hang up their boots and retire after just one business. Entrepreneurs are starting businesses younger and have faster expectations to sell – these factors, together with longer life expectancy, mean we are starting to see a new breed of serial entrepreneurs. Instead of starting businesses from scratch, more of these seasoned business owners are now investing in and mentoring a portfolio of companies. There is huge untapped potential for serial entrepreneurship and the role of experience seems invaluable to success. Unlocking that further could provide significant economic benefits.”    

Highlights include:

  • In general, individuals are starting businesses at a younger age: over half (57%) started their first business by the age of 25 versus only 23% of those aged 35 and above;
  • Younger entrepreneurs are more impatient to exit, with 63% planning to exit their current business within the next five years, versus 46% of those 35 and over;
  • Wealth is not a dominant motivation for serial or one-time entrepreneurs, with business growth (90%), interacting with people (79%), and contributing to society (73%) all ranking higher;
  • 80% of one-time founders enjoy being immersed in running a business – this is true for only 55% of serial entrepreneurs. Serial entrepreneurs are less likely to enjoy day-to-day business involvement, and tend to prefer a more detached portfolio approach;
  • Serial entrepreneurs are less afraid of failure, with only 13% saying they are afraid of failing, compared to 40% of one-time founders;
  • Serial entrepreneurs see luck as becoming less important as they gain business experience. While 67% of one-time founders recognised the good fortune that helped their businesses succeed, only 56% of two to five-time founders, and 36% of six-to ten-time founders did so;
  • Serial entrepreneurs are more pessimistic about a healthy work/life balance, with 47% conceding that success requires putting business before your personal life, compared with only 36% of one-time founders;
  • The businesses owned by female respondents tended to be smaller: 92% of respondents cited turnover as below £500k, compared to only 59% of men; and
  • A fifth of one-time founders have experienced a stock market listing, compared to less than 2% of serial entrepreneurs – perhaps because they build their businesses for longer.

“To go beyond the first business can be an entirely different challenge to being a one-time founder” says Matt Smith, Director at CFE. “We wanted to create a report that explores the motivations, fears, and ingredients for success that surround serial entrepreneurialism. Our report delves into the role of luck, the attraction of multiple projects, and attitudes towards risk, but also indicates areas for growth: how do we encourage more women entrepreneurs? Should we remove the stigma around closures? It’s food for thought and a glimpse into Britain’s entrepreneurial mindset.”

Entrepreneur case studies detailed in the report include:

  • Dan McGuire, founder of Broadbean, an innovative job advert platform, and cube19, a business intelligence platform
  • Jeremy Furniss, partner at Livingstone, an international mid-market Mergers & Acquisitions and Debt Advisory firm where he advises entrepreneurs on selling their businesses
  • Mark Hogg, founder of IFE Services and Oceans TV – market leading in-flight and cruise ship entertainment – while his latest businesses invest in biomass and solar power technology in Africa and the UK
  • Paul Atherton, serial entrepreneur investing in university spinouts. His latest venture is an ambitious battery company
  • Rachel Bell, who has founded and run multiple businesses in marketing and communications including Shine, Mischief, John Doe and Stoked PR
  • Shamus Husheer, founder of various businesses in chemical, medical, instrumental technology, finance and fashion sectors.

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