Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success Revealed

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As budding businessmen and women face make or break in the latest series of Dragon's Den, what separates the winners from the losers? New research from Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank may have the answer.

As budding businessmen and women face make or break in the latest series of Dragon's Den, what separates the winners from the losers? New research from Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank may have the answer. The bank's study, which profiled entrepreneurs across the UK, identified a number of traits which today's tycoons have in common - could these be the secrets of entrepreneurial success?

The research(1) shows six in ten (60%) business owners are the first born child, revealing their inner confidence and healthy self esteem. More than four in five (85%) have one or more siblings, putting to good use leadership and teamwork qualities learnt at a young age.

Unlike the big egos and self-confidence often witnessed on-screen, the research reveals the character traits most successful entrepreneurs believe they have in common are actually being dependable (43%), considerate (22%) and a good listener (22%).

Private education seems to have little influence compared to natural entrepreneurial flair, with nearly three quarters (71%) coming from a state school background. However, further education does help. Nearly a fifth (17%) of business owners left education after GCSEs or O levels, while over a third (34%) were educated to degree level and almost one in five (18%) continued to secure a Masters or PhD.

Meanwhile, a wealthy background appears to deter entrepreneurialism, with more than nine out of ten successful business people describing themselves as either middle-class (50%) or working class (43%).

The research reveals that a third (33%) started their business between the ages of 26 and 35 and London is the most likely place for a small business to start up, with two fifths (40%) of entrepreneurs launching their future empire in the capital.

With nearly three in ten (29%) of small businesses failing before they reach three years(2), it seems business owners are learning to combat risk, with more than half (51%) saying that their approach to business is attention to detail and over a quarter (28%) saying it is being prudent with money.

Nearly all entrepreneurs are united in sharing the same motivations for starting up. Nearly two thirds (62%) wanted independence, over half (56%) wanted more control over their lives and almost six in ten (57%) wanted to be their own boss so they didn't have to answer to anybody else.

Steve Jennings, Director of Business Banking at Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank, said: "Enterprise is the lifeblood of British business and it is vital that we continue to support entrepreneurialism and the small business community.

"The research shows that some types of people are more likely to take the leap into business than others but, whatever your personality, there are certain things that everyone can do to ensure the success of their business.

"The secret of any successful businesses is remembering to temper bravery with prudence. Running a business does have associated risks but it's vital to make sure that contingency plans are in place should the worst happen. It is encouraging that many business owners say they pay attention to detail and take a sensible approach to their businesses' finances. Setting funds aside in a high-interest deposit account and making sure that you have the best deal from all your suppliers will provide a financial cushion so that you can afford to grow and develop further."

For further information on the full range of accounts available from
Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank, business owners should call free 0800 587 0800 or visit

Notes to editors:

(1)    All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 843 business owners whose turnover is less than £1m. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th June - 1st July 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures are unweighted.
(2)    DTI Small Business Service, February 2007
(3)    Alliance & Leicester also provided excellent rates on mortgage deals and personal loans


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