Elderly and female put off starting own firms

 

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Nearly a third of over 50s believe they are too old to start a business and almost half of women believe they will be taken less seriously than men as entrepreneurs, new research reveals.

Britain could be missing out on major growth from its start-up business drive because the popular image portrayed of an entrepreneur focuses on middle class, middle aged, male business leaders, the Get Started report commissioned by cosmetics group Avon shows.

It examined the attitudes of 2,000 women and men under 25 and over 50 – a group which accounts for a third of the UK’s population, but was found to be ignored by government and business leaders presenting start up opportunities.

Some 48 per cent of respondents said they wanted to set up a business at some point in their lives, but almost half of women believe they will be taken less seriously than men as entrepreneurs and nearly a third of over 50s thought they were too old to start a business.

Only four per cent of total respondents were able to name a successful female entrepreneur, and only two per cent were able to name a successful entrepreneur under the age of 25.

Nottingham University entrepreneur Professor Susan Marlow, author of the Get Started report, proposes increased investment in entrepreneurship education to encourage more young people to embark on a self-employed career , and the use of alternative role models.

Professor Marlow added: “Popular entrepreneurial profiles need to be reconfigured to include kitchen table, direct-selling and other less aggressive models of business ownership that don’t simply kowtow to the Branson, Sugar and Jobs stereotypes.

“There is a need to educate and communicate more flexible and innovative business models to encourage the first entrepreneurial steps amongst the -25/+50 groups in question.”

Three quarters of the 2,000 respondents also warned that government policy was not doing enough to support start-ups, particularly those at either end of the age spectrum, and for women.

Avon commissioned the report to highlight the credentials of under-represented groups to businesses, professional services and banks in order to change the way they select and back potential entrepreneurs.

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