Untapped talent: RBS poll identifies one in five adults as private or ‘hidden’ entrepreneurs

The next generation of Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons could be hiding their light under a bushel, according to revealing new survey statistics

Untapped talent: RBS poll identifies one in five adults as private or ‘hidden’ entrepreneurs

Admit it, you’ve sat in your arm chair at home watching Dragons’ Den, or another reality TV show on business-building and budding entrepreneurs, and you’ve thought ‘I could do that’. Well, it would appear that you are not alone, as the latest figures from RBS suggest that there’s more to most nine-to-fivers than initially meets the eye.

According to the latest RBS Enterprise Tracker – conducted by Populus and supported by UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs – one in five adults use their spare time to grow an independent enterprise and earn some extra cash, with an impressive two fifths of the 3,789 interviewees possessing potentially lucrative past-times.

However, in spite of this apparent plethora of ‘hidden entrepreneurs’, there is still a disconnect between thought and reality, between the 38% of adults who express desire to run a business, the 6% who actually follow-through, and the even more depressing 3% who draft up viable business plans. The fundamental question then is where does the problem lie? Well, the newest statistics offer up practical reasons for the lack of gumption in potentially successful business folk. Apparently, logistical limitations such as the state of the economy and the sourcing of funds are causing as many as half of the adult population to lack confidence, and fear failure in their hypothetical enterprises. These fearsome statistics are perhaps not helped by the fact that just shy of half of the interviewees were unaware of the help available and the ways in which they could apply. This is despite a similar amount of people possessing sufficient skills, with only 12% unsure as to their business’s market opportunity and viability.

The news of these figures does seem to have been received positively though, with head of sustainable programmes at RBS, Thom Kenrick, praising the demonstration of potential talent hinted at by the stats. “This research shows there is untapped potential right across Britain, of people could be successful in business,” he said.

Meanwhile Cliff Prior, chief executive of UnLtd, similarly focused on the potentially positive economic impact of having such a market of untapped business talent, but conceded these figures demonstrate a much-needed rethink of the dominating view of entrepreneurialism.

“These figures tell us that people want to create business out of their hobbies, passions and interests – which is where many social entrepreneurs start,” he commented.

“As a nation we need to get better at nurturing our entrepreneurial talent and normalising entrepreneurship as a career path from an early age.”

We certainly hope we can share in their optimism over the coming year.

Amy-Louise Roberts
Amy-Louise Roberts

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