More than half of UK workers (61 per cent) are desperate to work for themselves but those dreams never become a reality for one in six (17 per cent) budding entrepreneurs because they do not know how to market themselves properly, according to research commissioned by direct selling company Vorwerk.
The scuppering statistic sees East Anglia as the nation’s area of workers most worried about their ability to ‘sell themselves’, with a quarter (26 per cent) admitting that’s the main reason why they would not set-up their own businesses. Other confidence-stricken areas includes London (20 per cent), the North West (19 per cent) and the East Midlands (19 per cent).
Women struggle the most to market themselves, with 18 per cent saying that’s why they do not go it alone. However, there is little difference between the sexes as 17 per cent of men reveal that their own marketing is also their downfall.
The age range finding it most difficult to promote their capabilities proves to be 18-34-year-olds (19 per cent), with those over the age of 55 feeling the most confident (16 per cent) about the prospect.
Such figures could go some way to explaining why just one in ten (9 per cent) full and part-time workers reveal that they hate their current roles and only 13 per cent in the UK love their jobs.
Other factors stopping workers from being their own bosses include worries over finances, the potential risks involved and knowing how to make their business venture a success.
Working for yourself – top five barriers for UK adults
Lack of financial security – 56 per cent
No confidence to go it alone – 36 per cent
Uncertainty around work – 32 per cent
Too risky – 30 per cent
Wouldn’t know what to do – 23 per cent
Money proves a big motivator for a change in careers, with the top three reasons to job-switch being:
- Better salary – 50 per cent
- Better work-life balance – 29 per cent
- Career progression opportunities – 20 per cent
A further one in ten (11 per cent) people would be keen to job move for flexible hours and 16 per cent want to work in a better environment.
The future is bright
For the fifth of UK employees (20 per cent) that have branched out into a new area, the good news is that the other side looks promising – with the most common emotions associated with changing career being excitement (42 per cent) and liberation (35 per cent).
Speaking about the findings, Thomas Henningsson, sales director with Vorwerk, says, ‘It’s also totally understandable that people are worried about selling themselves and that they have concerns over the regularity of work and cash flow when it comes to going alone – but there are lots of inspirational people around who have done it and are now reaping the rewards.
‘We’d encourage anyone considering dipping their toe into the self-employed water to look at options like Vorwerk – where you have the flexibility and earnings potential of being your own boss – but a degree of structure and lots of support to help you in your quest to become an entrepreneur.’
Vorwerk business influencer Claire Young, founder of School Speakers and BBC One’s ‘The Apprentice’ finalist, says, ‘I find these figures from Vorwerk very shocking. I can’t believe that financial worries and other factors such as worrying over not being able to market yourself are holding back so many want-to-be entrepreneurs.
‘We need to do more to offer people financial advice and help to build people’s confidence and faith in their business ideas.’
Young continues, ‘I faced many challenges when first starting out on my own were. I was walking away from very well-paid job offers and was also worried about the financial side of things and how to take a risk on my idea and make it happen.
‘To overcome the challenges, I really questioned what was most important to me. I think for many people, starting a business isn’t necessarily about the money but the change of lifestyle.
‘Being in charge of your own time and decisions, the chance to be creative, to be in charge and strive for a better work-life balance were all key motivators for me.’
Claire Young’s nine tips for budding entrepreneurs
Don’t be afraid to fail, take action
Have the confidence to actually take the plunge and do it. An idea is worth absolutely nothing unless actioned. When I was deciding whether to start my own business, I slept on it for weeks. I woke up one morning and thought to myself ‘there isn’t an option not to do this.’ Walking into the unknown can be a little intimidating but once you’ve made the decision, it’s head down working and full steam ahead.
Do your research
Before you spend any money, research your idea. Know the market inside out. Know your competition and, most of all, know your customer! Listen to what they to say – their feedback can be invaluable.
Know your numbers and have a business plan
You need a structure and some goals to work around and aim for. Keep an eye on your cash flow and have written agreements for all business.
Lord Sugar nicknamed me a Rottweiler for my tenacity on The Apprentice and I think it’s probably one of most important traits of successful entrepreneurs. Listen to others, but most importantly have faith in yourself and your ability.
If you really believe in your business, you will make it happen. Not every day is a breeze, it’s a huge learning curve and you need to have the ability to draw a line under a bad day and start afresh again. A positive attitude is everything!
Speak to others
It can be quite isolating working alone at times, so proactively seek out networking groups and build like-minded contacts. Never underestimate the power of contacts old and new, and spend as much time listening as you can and be relentlessly curious. Get a mentor and bounce ideas off them.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Try to start a business at the same time as working (yes, that means seven days a week of hard graft!). But it means that you have guaranteed income coming in.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. You are not going to start a business and become a millionaire overnight. You will have never worked so hard in your life. Work hard, then harder – you will work twice as hard and for longer hours but put the effort in as it’s for your own reward. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be entrepreneurs and they’re not. Have a safety net of finance behind you so that you don’t need to withdraw a salary from the company until it’s in a position to afford you.
Follow your passion
You are not going to be successful in something which you have very little interest in. In the early days you will be working long hours, so you need to find something which interests and engages you.
Have a structure to your working day. Find a set office space, arrange your working hours, and don’t get distracted. Set some boundaries especially if you are working from home. Time is one of your most valuable commodities.