The biggest barriers to entrepreneurship

Barriers to entrepreneurship

For many Brits, the dream is to work for themselves, whether that’s a passion project that flourishes into full-time work or a sudden urge to go it alone.

With almost 20,000 Brits searching ‘how to start a business’ each month, it’s clear we’re a nation full of budding entrepreneurs. However, if so many are considering flying solo, what barriers are potentially stopping their excursion?

Solopress has surveyed 2,000 British people to uncover the dreams and despairs of our aspiring business owners to find out what the biggest barriers to entrepreneurship they face that’s halting their ambitions.

Three-quarters of employed Brits dream of becoming self-employed

Self-employed barriers to entrepreneurship

Imagining your dreams and living them are two very different prospects. For 74.2% of Brits who don’t already own a business, pursuing their dream of becoming an entrepreneur remains an ambition.

According to our survey, starting their venture in the retail sector is the most appealing industry to enter for aspiring business owners.

Two similar sectors, health and wellness, and food and beverages, closely follow retail as the most popular industries for dreaming entrepreneurs to start their venture in.

Top 10 sectors people would like to open a business inPercentage of respondents that want to open a business in this sector (%)
Health and wellness5.8%
Food and beverages5.0%
Pet care4.5%
Hospitality and tourism3.7%
Education and training3.1%
Craft business3.1%
Manufacturing and production2.7%

Our survey reveals
that finance alongside manufacturing and production are the least popular industries for budding business owners.

Interestingly, there’s a noticeable gender split in people hoping to manage their own company in the future. 82.5% of men hope to open their own business one day, regardless of what sector it’s in. This figure slides slightly as at 68%, almost a third of females have no intention of ever owning their own enterprise.

As anticipated, young, ambitious and naïve to the barriers to entrepreneurship, over 93% of 18-24-year-olds want to open their own business one day.

In comparison, almost 50% of those aged over 55 have zero desire to turn a new leaf and dive into the entrepreneur lifestyle.

Age rangePercentage (%) that said they would not want to open a business in any sector

Cardiff has the largest population of aspiring entrepreneurs

They say you become who you surround yourself with. If you’re based in Cardiff, it would appear that your circle is filled with aspiring entrepreneurs.

A staggering 83.5% of all Cardiffians would like to open a business in the future. Unsurprisingly, they’re closely followed by Londoners where 82% of people also have ambitions of running their own business.

Interestingly, each of the top four cities full of aspiring entrepreneurs belongs to a different corner of Britain. In Cardiff, London, Glasgow and Belfast, it’s clear that Britain is full of ambitious potential entrepreneurs.

Here you can find the top 10 cities with the highest percentage of aspiring entrepreneurs: 

CityWould open a business (Net)N/A – I would never open a business in any sectorSector%
London81.98%18.02%Health and wellness6.68%
Glasgow78.85%21.15%Health and wellness9.62%
Leeds77.23%22.77%Pet care8.91%
Newcastle77.11%22.89%Food and beverages8.43%
Sheffield71.43%28.57%Food and beverages / Health and wellness7.94%

Languishing at the bottom are maritime cities, Bristol and Liverpool. Over 40% of respondents in both of these areas have no intention of starting their own businesses. 

Are businesses becoming too expensive to start?

financial barriers to entrepreneurship

Almost a third of our survey respondents (30.7%) cited the associated cost as being the main reason preventing or putting their entrepreneurial dreams on hold.

Depending on the industry, some businesses will incur higher costs than others. However, all will be met with the same type of costs initially. Start-up costs, legal fees and marketing are required and necessary penny pinchers to get the business running.

Almost a quarter of people believe their fear of failure is the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship (23.1%). High expectations, low confidence or maybe a mixture of the two can build up a growing picture of doubt in someone’s head. Once this canvas gets too crowded, it’s no surprise many fear their future business may fail.

This was closely followed by the economic climate being the third largest factor preventing aspiring entrepreneurs from starting (22.2%). The instability post-Brexit compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic, has left an economic climate in which many are clearly wary about starting a new chapter.

A lack of experience (20.2%) and a lack of knowledge (16.4%) made up the last two barriers to entrepreneurship. This is interesting, as on the flip side, many entrepreneurs claim to suffer from imposter syndrome due to a perceived lack of knowledge or experience in their new position. As the saying goes, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Biggest barrier to entrepreneurshipPercentage who agreed with this statement (%)
The associated cost30.7%
Fear of failure23.1%
The economic climate22.2%
Lack of experience20.2%
Lack of knowledge16.4%

Financial backing would encourage more entrepreneurs

There are many things that could make entrepreneurship easier. Some people have the expertise without the bread to back their master plan. For others, it could be the reverse. Everyone’s path to owning their dream business is unique to them.


Following the trend shown in our survey that most people (30%) believe the associated costs are the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship, it’s not surprising that receiving monetary incentives would encourage more to take the leap of faith.

41.8% of respondents cited financial backing as the biggest factor that would significantly lower their barrier to entrepreneurship.

Moreover, 60% believe funding and greater government aid are the biggest barriers that could make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

A third of people believe a lack of knowledge and experience is preventing them from becoming an entrepreneur according to our survey. One in five (20%) believe that advice on how to start a business plan would increase their chances of starting a business.

36% of people believe that both advice on how to cope with the risk of starting a business and having a greater knowledge of the business sector are the important factors that would make them more likely to start their entrepreneurial career.

These were the top five answers when our respondents were asked What would help you overcome your previously mentioned barriers the most?’:

Financial backing41.8%
Advice on how to start a business plan20.8%
Government support and policies20.1%
Advice on how to cope with the risk of starting a new business19.3%
More knowledge about the business sector17.8%

Young parents are the most likely to set up green businesses

Living in a green world may be a dream for some but it’s a key business target for others. With increasing pressure on existing companies to introduce and uphold green values, does this sway the approach of potential new business owners?

Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. 81.3% of people believe it’s important to make sure their business is a green business.

However, it’s fascinating to see that, according to our data, it’s not Generation Z who care the most about environmental sustainability when setting up a business. Those aged 35-44 can clearly be seen to have the strongest green values if they were to start their dream business. This is shown by 88.8% claiming that having a green business is important to them versus 81% of 18-24-year-olds. 

The likelihood is that many of those aged 35-44 may recently have become parent, opening their eyes to the world they want their children to be raised in.

Unsurprisingly, people aged over 55 put the least emphasis on environmental sustainability with 25% of those surveyed disregarding the green values of their future business.

Age range:Percentage (%) that said having a green business is important to them:

Mind your business

Planning to set up your own business? Everyone setting up a business will encounter unique barriers, how you overcome them, however, is what will set you apart.

Once you’ve overcome your barriers to entrepreneurship, you’re going to need jaw-dropping branding to make your business unmissable. Explore the range of products on offer from Solopress to create irresistible print and branding.