Adversity creates entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs owe their success in business to personal adversity, reveals a new study.

Some 69 per cent of entrepreneurs say overcoming personal adversity was their main motivation to achieve. Fifty-six per cent said determination was the most important factor for a successful entrepreneur, followed by passion (22 per cent), claims the survey by social enterprise charity the Aldridge Foundation.

Rod Aldridge, founder of FTSE 100 outsourcing company Capita Group and chair of the Aldridge Foundation, says he was spurred on to prove himself after underachieving at school. ‘It is admirable that so many entrepreneurs have overcome personal adversity to lead incredibly successful lives. It’s a lesson to us all that anything is possible – but we can’t take this resilience for granted.’

Alex Cheatle, founder of corporate services firm TenUK, cites his parent’s divorce as the reason for his determination to succeed. ‘A government minister once asked me how we can boost entrepreneurship in this country. My flippant response was: “More misfortune’’.

Of the 370 entrepreneurs surveyed, 21 per cent said the best way to encourage young entrepreneurs is to provide business mentors, with 20 per cent believing entrepreneurship should be taught at school.

Richard Branson was recently voted the most popular business guru in a poll by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

See also: Five essential characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

SMEs triumph over adversity

Over 40 per cent of small businesses in the UK have developed creative solutions to strengthen their business during the downturn, research has found.

Commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the study shows that over three quarters (77 per cent) of the 500 respondents have made changes and believe that their business is stronger as a result.

Changes include switching staff roles (19 per cent), adjusting working hours (26 per cent), investing in additional staff training, motivation and rewards (33 per cent), recruiting new staff (15 per cent) and exploring new product areas (64 per cent).

Simon Woodroffe, founder of YO! Sushi and YOTEL, comments: ‘As a downturn hits, a true entrepreneur sits up and looks at how to turn a potentially difficult situation into one that can strengthen their business. This commitment to flexibility and desire to constantly evolve is at the very heart of successful enterprise.’

The underlying driver for the changes has been the economic downturn. Almost half of those that made changes (45 per cent) said they did so to take a pro-active approach to the shifting business environment. Over a third of entrepreneurs (37 per cent) said it was to ensure they are ready to capitalise when the economy is stronger. A similar number of respondents (35 per cent) said that they have adapted their business to capitalise on a new growth area.

Respondents also believe the size of their business has helped them adapt to the changing economic circumstances (89 per cent).

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