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More Brits than ever want to start a business post-COVID

18 January 2022

New research by FreeAgent has found that 64% of Brits have plans to start their own business in the future - significantly up from the 51% who said the same in last year's poll.

The survey, conducted by accounting software firm FreeAgent, has found that two in three Brits (64%) plan to start their own business at some point in the future - over 10% higher than last years' survey (51%). More than one in ten (11%) plan to break out on their own in 2022 and a further fifth (21%) plan to do so in the next few years.

The findings also show that 49% of respondents say they have had to push back their timelines for starting their own business because of the pandemic. However, 27% of respondents said COVID-19 had actually moved their business plans forward and 24% said the pandemic hasn't affected their plans at all.

Younger respondents appear to be the most entrepreneurial, with 80% of those aged between 18-34 revealing they have always dreamt of starting their own business at some point in their lives. However, other age groups also show entrepreneurial intentions, with 60% of 35-54 years-olds and 33% of over-55s saying they harbour plans to start their own business.

Work-life balance

The main motivation for these would-be entrepreneurs is work-life balance, cited by 47% of respondents. Interestingly, the main drivers in 2020 were being able to choose what work they do (for 42%) and being able to earn more money (36%).

This year, the main motivations for starting a business, after work-life balance, are:

  • wanting to be their own boss (44%);
  • choosing what work to do (40%);
  • following their passion (34%);
  • gaining a greater sense of achievement (30%).

Almost a third (30%) of respondents said that they would like to fit work around their family commitments - significantly higher for female respondents (35% compared to 24% of male respondents).

Despite their ambitions, however, 90% of those polled admitted that they do have concerns about running a business. Top worries are:

  • the financial burden of setting up (51%);
  • dealing with tax including VAT and Making Tax Digital (39%);
  • complying with business regulations such as GDPR and IR35 (32%);
  • managing business finances (29%);
  • a lack of government support for freelancers and small businesses (27%).

The research has actually highlighted ongoing confusion around Making Tax Digital (MTD). A worrying 82% of respondents said they are unaware of the upcoming 2024 deadline for MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA), which will require self-employed people, sole traders and landlords that have income over £10,000, to use digital software to manage their finances and file their tax returns.

Roan Lavery, ceo and co-founder of FreeAgent said: "The emergence of new businesses will be fundamental to the UK's economic recovery following the impact of the pandemic and Brexit - so it's fantastic to see a 10% increase this year in would-be entrepreneurs saying they want to start their own business in the future.

"However, while this entrepreneurial sentiment is positive on the whole, there are still some concerns. In particular, the research suggests that more needs to be done by the government to provide greater help and support for new businesses - especially around upcoming legislation such as MTD. Without the proper tools, knowledge and assistance that they need to be successful, this new generation of entrepreneurs will be unable to provide the UK with the economic boost that it needs over the coming years."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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