Women show greater entrepreneurial ambition than men

Almost half of female entrepreneurs claim they are interested in starting another business in the next three years, compared to just one in five men, research finds.

A study by Barclays and the University of Cambridge suggests that women in small businesses are also more modest than men, with just 42 per cent saying their business is prospering compared to 62 per cent of males.

This is despite the fact female-run businesses are shown on average to report higher pre-tax profits.

The survey casts fresh light on the make-up of a modern entrepreneur, dispelling the myth they are all confident, lone wolves with tunnel-vision to success.

The research examined the views and psychometric profiles of more than 2,000 entrepreneurs and employees in the UK, Germany, Singapore and the US. It found that business creators scored higher on ten of 13 key character traits identified as being prevalent in business creation, including achievement, motivation and the need for autonomy.

Yet it also revealed striking differences between entrepreneurs themselves, with two distinct types emerging: one set, the Type As, who are artistic, well-organised, highly competitive and emotionally stable; and the other Type Bs, who tend to be traditional, conservative, disorganised, spontaneous and focused on team-working.

Vesselin Popov, development strategist at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre says, ‘These psychometric results debunk the myth of the CEO superhero. Entrepreneurs do differ from employees but as a group, they are still incredibly diverse and often misunderstood.’

Greg B Davies PhD, head of behavioural and quantitative finance at Barclays adds that entrepreneurs are often incorrectly viewed as one homogeneous group. ‘This study directly challenges that misperception with a much more varied picture of success. Indeed, some of the characteristics we found, such as introspection, actively counter society’s popular stereotypes.’

Senior entrepreneurs view ‘freedom to make decisions’ as the main incentive for starting a business, with 70 per cent citing this reason compared to just over half of those aged under 50.

Migrant entrepreneurs are behind one in seven UK companies and create 14 per cent of all SME jobs, according to the research.

Further reading on female entrepreneurs

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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