There are almost seven million potential entrepreneurs in the UK who have plans for a business but are being held back because of a lack of support.
A survey of 8,500 Brits conducted by AXA Business Insurance has found that 13% of the UK population have plans to start their own business. The biggest untapped source of business activity is among the under 25s, where 27% have a business idea that they want to get off the ground.
But six in ten of all budding entrepreneurs said they needed to acquire skills before they could set up and only 37% said the training they need is available and accessible to them.
The most sought-after courses are: business management, marketing, finance and digital skills. Expense is the key barrier to further education, followed by a lack of courses locally.
Just one in ten said there was good start-up support available to them in their area. The exception is Wales, which has seen significant digital investment and promotion of the tech economy in recent years. Welsh people are three times more likely to know about available support and rate it as "good".
Top locations for start-up support are:
- Swansea (with 57% saying there is good support);
- Edinburgh (27%);
- Southampton (24%);
- Birmingham (17%);
- Glasgow (16%).
When asked who they would turn to for advice on starting a business, just 15% named a Government institution, local authority or bank. Instead, 19% said they didn't expect anyone to help them and 52% said they would turn to family.
Self-doubt has also been identified as another significant stumbling block. Almost half (46%) of those polled said they felt people would not take them seriously as an entrepreneur because they don't fit a certain profile.
When asked to explain, a third cited appearance, weight, gender (female), age, class and ethnicity. Many respondents also said they did not have the right personality to become an entrepreneur - because they were not "extrovert", "ruthless" or "confident" enough.
Gareth Howell, managing director of AXA Insurance, said: "The UK population has an enormous pool of latent entrepreneurship, and it will be a tragedy if it goes to waste. It's a personal tragedy for individuals who don't realise their potential, and a national issue as the economy misses out on talent and revenue.
"This isn't just about dreams, it's also about economic survival. With such a rapidly changing workplace and impending challenges like automation, self-employment will become a rite of passage for future generations."