There are many misconceptions about the modern day business owner. In recent years we tend to associate them with the stereotype of a ‘start up’—a ping-pong playing, big-city based individual glued to his or her computer screen. As a result, we’ve overlooked the fact that there are millions of small and medium sized businesses all across the UK, many of which are far from this persona.
To debunk a few of the most common myths, we offered the people behind some of the UK’s 5.7million small and medium sized businesses the opportunity to share their experience of running a company.
Myth #1: Only millennials are made for entrepreneurship
The perception that the entrepreneurial spirit is exclusive to the young can be disproved by a recent report by Barclay’s Business Banking. The report found that over the last 10 years the fastest-growing age group of business owners has been the over-65s, with a 140 per cent increase! In comparison, those aged 25-34 had grown by 23 per cent.
Yacine Amor, Founder and CEO of Artisan Olive Oil Company sheds some light on why this may be. “Given [that] we often reach financial stability at an older age we have more freedom to follow our passions.”
Business lender, Spotcap, has also observed this trend. “About 60 percent of our customers are more than 40 years of age, often running well established, successful businesses. There was once a belief that fintech services like ours would be for early adopters but that hasn’t been our experience at all” explained Stephen Whelan, Business Relationship Manager.
Myth #2: Only an expert can run a successful business
“I believe it is a myth that you require experience and contacts within an industry to be successful”...
says Kellie Bath of JimJam Spreads, a manufacturer of healthy chocolate spreads and jams. Before starting their venture in their mid forties, Kelly had worked in complementary therapy whilst her husband and co-founder Kevin had worked in IT.
Initially fitting their project in between existing commitments, things really changed when supermarkets took an interest. Kellie adds, “that’s when we took the leap of faith and gave up our jobs to concentrate full-time on the business. We threw ourselves into it and learned on the job.”
The OCED tells a similar story, revealing that 51% of female entrepreneurs in the UK started their business as a result of a hobby or passion, and 35% of their male counterparts cite the same motivation.
Myth #3: Business owners take on a lot of personal financial risk.
Ask any business owner and they will tell you that one of their greatest challenges is managing economic uncertainty. To overcome the unexpected, businesses owners need to be in a position to quickly access funding when needed.
According to research from Dun & Bradstreet 58 per cent of small businesses are at risk of failure thanks to late payments, with 51 per cent claiming late payments are more of a problem than they were three years ago.
Moreover, business owners normally have to offer personal assets to receive the funding they need, putting their house or personal savings on the line. What many business owners don’t realise is that there are alternatives. Today some lenders offer an unsecured product without the need for a personal guarantee, which means you don’t have to put personal assets at risk to grow your business.
Myth-busting is a must to ensure the right support for UK SMEs
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and their numbers are growing year on year. 2017 saw an increase of 197,000 businesses since 2016, 2.2 million more than in 2000. To provide the right support it’s crucial that the government, industry associations and lenders understand your reality.
We’ve learnt that age isn’t a barrier, that passion and dedication can take a business further than industry expertise, and that you don’t have to take on financial risk personally. What else do they need to know?
It’s up to you to have a voice. Don’t forget to share your reality.
Originally published August 17 2018 , updated February 24 2020