Revealed: Why Scots are binning their business plans

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A third of Scots say they’d like to start their own business – but financial fears are holding them back.

A survey of Scotland’s aspiring entrepreneurs has revealed that the financial aspects of self-employment are causing Scots to think twice about setting up – after a dramatic increase in UK self-employment between 2008 and 2012 according to the Office for National Statistics.

1000 people in Scotland were asked if they’d considered starting their own business, and which aspects of owning a company they found the most daunting – with money matters being the key cause for concern.

The study found that overheads and over-working are the main reasons ambitious Scots are binning their business plans.

37.4% of participants considered the lack of stable income the ultimate obstacle to starting their own business, despite a City AM report that Britain’s SMEs generate a yearly turnover of over £1 trillion – one third of the UK’s overall business turnover.

Almost 20% of those surveyed were daunted by the prospect of securing funding for their start-up, in spite of the range of government schemes in place to help fledgling businesses find their feet – while a significant 15% of respondents were put off by the idea of managing their own business finances.

Generation Y

One resounding outcome of the survey by Intouch Accounting saw more than half of under-35s reveal they’d like to own their own business – suggesting that entrepreneurial spirit is strong among generation Y.

This is reflected in the ongoing drop in the average age of Intouch Accounting’s own client base – now at 39 and trending downwards, month by month, as new clients come on board.

Women below the age of 35 were the most passionate when it came to the prospect of self-employment – with a staggering 65% of younger women in Scotland stating that they’d consider taking the leap.

A third of female respondents between 18 and 35 cited the lack of stable income as their number one cause for concern when it came to the reality of setting up – while less than 10% of these women considered the prospect of working unsocial hours to be a deal-breaker.

Burdens of business ownership

According to the study, it isn’t just the finances Scotland’s would-be entrepreneurs are afraid of – as the responsibilities and stresses associated with starting up scooped a hefty 25% of the vote.

On top of that, 16.5% of participants were apprehensive when it came to the prospect of forfeiting their existing job benefits – and over 13% of those surveyed were discouraged by the idea of working long hours.

Recent data from Groupon revealed that over a third of British adults either run their own enterprise or are planning to set up – with the freedom of being their own boss cited as the number one motivation.

But with independence comes responsibility – and it appears that this professional freedom is actually the greatest deterrent for many of Scotland’s aspiring business owners.

Paul Gough, managing director at Intouch Accounting, said: “I think the survey results prove the UK flexible workforce is here to stay.

“40% of the population surveyed and more than half of generation Y are entrepreneurial - that’s great news!

“When the government shows its true colours and gets behind the UK contractor, reducing the uncertainty about the future of this invaluable part of the economy, this figure will undoubtedly increase.

“Predictability of income can be improved by clarity of voice and action from HMRC and I welcome that.”

Topline results:

Would you ever consider starting your own business?

Yes: 43%

No: 57%

What puts you off being self-employed?

Lack of stable income: 37.4%

Too much responsibility/stress: 24.9%

Securing start-up funding: 19.8%

Losing existing job benefits: 16.5%

Managing business finances: 15.4%

Long working hours: 13.6%

Other: 2.2%