The Dragons’ Den effect wearing off on potential entrepreneurs

For the first time since the survey began in 2003, fewer than half the adults surveyed thought that starting a business was a ‘good career option’ and that they saw successful businesses covered in the media, suggesting that the so-called ‘Dragons’ Den’ effect, which returned to our screens on the BBC last night, may be wearing off.
The findings show that only 3.8pc of the population expects to start a business in the next three years, compared with 5.9pc in 2004. The annual survey, called the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, has highlighted these worrying statistics after speaking to 30,000 UK residents.
Men are also taking the lead as only 3.7pc of women were involved in what the researchers from Strathclyde and Aston Universities defined as entrepreneurial activity, compared with 7.8pc of men.
However, the gap between sexes narrowed in early stage companies, the researchers found, raising the prospect that a higher proportion of female owned businesses fail to become established.
The number of people having to set up in business to earn income rose sharply between 2007 and 2008 but eased off last year in every region of the country apart from London, where the number of people forced into self employment tripled.
Mark Prisk, small business minister, said: The Government is well aware of the challenge it faces to raise enterprise awareness and start-up activity in the UK. We will meet that challenge by making this decade the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in our history.”

He said the Government would develop “a coherent and comprehensive strategy for enterprise”.
This would include:
  • Challenging aspirations and capability – embedding enterprise awareness and business management skills into mainstream education: schools, further education colleges and higher education institutions.
  • Modernising business support – ensuring the support, information and advice provided to businesses is fit for the 21st century.
  • Supporting cash flow and access to finance – ensuring individuals and businesses have the skills, tools and networks they need to understand the options and to access finance, and that Government identifies and addresses market failures.
  • Reducing burdens – making it easier to start and grow a business by delivering long-term certainty and stability in the tax system, and pushing ahead with the promise to reduce regulation.
  • Transforming opportunities for individuals and their communities – a radical change in the support offered to workless people through Work for Yourself and providing access to mentors and small loans for the most disadvantaged”.
The survey, carried out before the general election has given the new coalition government a lot to think about, but it does appear that Mark Prisk has hit the ground running with the immediate adoption of part of the Richard report into the planned closure of the Business link network and modernisation of the way that start-ups and SME’s receive advice on how to plan, grow and run their businesses for profit.
The National Enterprise Academy, created by TV dragon and entrepreneur Peter Jones has not seen any dip in school leavers wanting to learn the skills it takes to run and start a business.
Natalie Hutchinson, who is 19, started up NH Designs while at the NEA. Her business provides personalised T-shirts said: “Setting up my business was part of my course. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve, but it was my time at the NEA that helped me to put my new business skills into practice and really achieve it.”