Start-up revolution at risk as younger generations put off from setting up their own business

London, 1st October 2018

New report reveals Britain is missing out on 70,000 would-be entrepreneurs

Paper calls for the creation of an Enterprise Account – a new online dashboard to make it easier for people to set up their own business

Young people in Britain who have the skills and determination to set up their own business are being put off due to the perception that the process is too difficult and confusing.

A report, ‘The Great British Enterprise Opportunity’, out today and authored by Steve Hughes a former Bank of England economist, examines both the start-up conditions across the country and whether a person has the necessary skills to start up a business. The findings reveal that:

There are over 70,000 people across the country who have the ideas and desire to set up their own business but choose not to

Three fifths – 59% – of those people are aged between 25 and 49, highlighting the fact that younger generations are less willing to try and start their own business

A new YouGov poll of 2,000 people contained within the paper shows that over 1 in 4 (28%) people are put off from starting their own business due to the complexity of the process

The numbers rise markedly for younger people with nearly half of those aged under 35 saying they are put off from starting a business as they wouldn’t know where to start and the process is too confusing

The paper, commissioned by Atos, a leader in digital transformation, finds that the UK could add more than a third of new businesses to the 197,000 that already exist if steps were taken to improve the way in which would-be entrepreneurs of all ages could access information. It says that the government should prioritise digital education programmes to help up-skill and re-train people so they have the ability to access jobs in an increasingly technology dependent labour market.

It also reveals that there are over 1.6million existing businesses – especially micro-businesses consisting of less than 10 employees – which are failing to maximise their growth potential. This is largely due to a failure to use digital technologies effectively including maintaining a web presence, selling online and using the cloud. A recent report found that almost 2 million SMEs in the UK operated without a website.

The report calls for the creation of an Enterprise Account – similar to the pensions dashboard – which contains everything from how to register a business, bookkeeping services and tax liabilities to how to access specific funds, as well as specialist mentor and training schemes.

Adrian Gregory, CEO Atos UK & Ireland, said: The barriers to growth – both for individuals looking to start their own business, and small businesses looking to expand – are real and are holding the country back. Reducing the complexity in how young people especially, access information, advice and funds to start and grow their own business will ensure that Britain retains its entrepreneurial zeal. “Unleashing Britain’s full entrepreneurial potential will also require workers of all ages to be match fit for the opportunities of a changing labour market. A relentless focus on upskilling and retraining people at all stages in their life will ensure the country is able to compete, innovate and create the jobs of the future.”

Rachel Maclean MP for Redditch County and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship said: Frankly starting a business is terrifying, and I know I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t found myself married into a family of entrepreneurs. Anything that can be done to ease these challenges is welcome.“

Notes to editors

Enterprise opportunity of people split by gender and by region


Male Female Total
North East        1,941          993          2,935
North West          5,341        2,803          8,144
Yorkshire          4,029        2,040          6,069
East Midlands          3,562        1,723          5,285
West Midlands          4,266        2,141          6,407
East          4,617        2,295          6,912
London          6,968        3,877        10,844
South East          6,771        3,407        10,178
South West          3,919        1,907          5,826
Wales          1,747          932          2,679
Scotland          2,916        1,553          4,469
Northern Ireland              674          377          1,052
TOTAL        46,751      24,050       70,801

Enterprise opportunity of SMEs, split by number of employees and by region


Micro businesses (0-9 employees) Small businesses (10-49 employees) Medium businesses (50-249 employees) Total businesses
North East 38,271 3,965 660 42,897
North West 144,527 13,406 2,175 160,108
Yorkshire and The Humber 102,273 9,990 1,637 113,900
East Midlands 98,755 9,002 1,482 109,239
West Midlands 119,116 10,664 1,683 131,463
East 153,073 12,352 1,956 167,381
London 287,879 20,557 3,664 312,100
South East 227,664 18,254 3,050 248,968
South West 131,033 11,716 1,711 144,460
Wales 57,313 5,234 701 63,248
Scotland 96,274 9,746 1,392 107,412
Northern Ireland 39,302 3,716 558 43,576
Total 1,495,481 128,602 20,670 1,644,753


About Atos        

Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with approximately 100,000 employees in 73 countries and annual revenue of around € 12 billion. European number one in Big Data, Cybersecurity, High Performance Computing and Digital Workplace, the Group provides Cloud services, Infrastructure & Data Management, Business & Platform solutions, as well as transactional services through Worldline, the European leader in the payment industry. With its cutting-edge technologies, digital expertise and industry knowledge, Atos supports the digital transformation of its clients across various business sectors: Defense, Financial Services, Health, Manufacturing, Media, Energy & Utilities, Public sector, Retail, Telecommunications and Transportation. The Group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic & Paralympic Games and operates under the brands Atos, Atos Consulting, Atos Worldgrid, Bull, Canopy, Unify and Worldline. Atos SE (Societas Europaea) is listed on the CAC40 Paris stock index.

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