Riding the upswing
There is a vibrant feel to this, our ninth annual DNA of an entrepreneur report. That vibrancy is apparent in the record numbers reporting growth in revenues and customer numbers. It is reflected in the rising level of optimism in most of the six countries surveyed. And it is there for all to see in the numbers who say their personal financial situation has improved in the past year.
But one of the most encouraging findings in the report is the evident progress of so many ‘millennials’ – those in their 20s and 30s. These are the movers and shakers on whom we will depend for much of our economic growth in the coming years. They are the new blood in the business world, and the report shows that most are not only prospering but are confident about what the future will bring.
The important role played by small businesses has been chronicled many times on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, small businesses have generated nearly two-thirds of net new jobs over the past two decades. In the UK, they account for 60% of all private sector employment. They drive growth and innovation, and they have a big impact on the prosperity of their local community.
Their numbers have been swelling in recent years in line with a rising trend in start-ups. This is hugely positive. But it is often forgotten that these are risk-takers – people who are often prepared to stake house and home, work long hours and forego income in order to turn an idea into reality. As the report shows, many rely on outside income to help fund the early stages of their business. It also shows how dependent many are on one large customer. A recurrent complaint is that governments are not doing enough to support them. This is no bed of roses.
At Hiscox, we have a long track record of helping entrepreneurs manage their risks, insuring around 480,000 small businesses worldwide. Together they have a turnover in excess of £70bn. It is vital for us, and important for them, if we can understand the pressures they face and anticipate their requirements going forward so that we can refine our products and services accordingly. But it does more. By opening a window into the world of the entrepreneur, it offers rare insights into the attitudes and behaviour of those shaping the business world of tomorrow. As such, it should be essential reading for policymakers and others that have an interest in supporting or promoting the wellbeing of the small business community.
Chief Executive Officer, Hiscox