Traditional stereotypes of entrepreneurs 'out of date'

Traditional stereotypes of entrepreneurs are out of date and preventing more problem solving, new research suggests.

People often have an image of the typical entrepreneur from watching business programmes such as The Apprentice.
People often have an image of the typical entrepreneur from watching business programmes such as The Apprentice.

The study by King’s Entrepreneurship Institute in collaboration with YouGov reveals that negative stereotypes of business leaders may be preventing people from recognising entrepreneurial qualities in themselves at a time when these skills are needed most.

However, while these stereotypes seem to exist, the results of the research also show that 69 per cent of British adults think entrepreneurs are important to helping economies grow and 63 per cent believe they are important to the recovery from recessions.

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With an overwhelming 86 per cent of people describing themselves as either slightly or not at all entrepreneurial, the institute said it was working to bust traditional stereotypes and myths to enable people to realise their entrepreneurial skills and be “encouraged to join the ecosystem of individuals solving some of the world’s challenges”.

Julie Devonshire, director of the Entrepreneurship Institute, said: “These results show that whilst people are generally positive about entrepreneurs, some of those negative and traditional stereotypes, such as being money-motivated, self-interested, and egotistical, still exist.

“Given the pandemic’s tumultuous impact on young people’s futures and job prospects and the economic challenges faced by people across the country, it’s more important than ever that negative stereotypes of entrepreneurs do not discourage the development and pursuit of entrepreneurial qualities such as the ability to innovate, collaborate, be resilient and get stuff done.”

The findings showed that 44 per cent of those quizzed viewed entrepreneurs as important to responding to crises, such as the Covid pandemic. Meanwhile, some 45 per cent of respondents believed entrepreneurs were more likely to be male.

Devonshire added: “Entrepreneurship has changed and the much-needed next generation are different – in a recent survey of our start-ups over the last five years at King’s, 82 per cent said that their biggest motivators were solving problems, driving change or finding more effective solutions.

“We need to change the perception of entrepreneurship to reflect what is really going on amongst contemporary entrepreneurs so that they are encouraged to recognise their entrepreneurial qualities and act on them.”

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