The self-made entrepreneur

Coming from a family business background undoubtedly brings advantages when it comes to running your own company.

But two out of five entrepreneurs do not fit this mould. Instead, they are self-starters striving for independent success. And what they may lack in connections that can give their business a head start, they often make up for in passion and drive.

Here are some of the other key factors that set this group of entrepreneurs apart:

  • Self-starters aim higher

    Those who do not come from a business-owning background tend to be more ambitious, with an average annual growth target of 13 per cent compared with 10 per cent for their family business counterparts, according to research from HSBC Private Banking (see box). This may be because it takes a certain level of confidence to start a new venture. And perhaps self-starters, having taken the risk to go it alone, are even more determined to make it work.

  • They make their own rules

    Young entrepreneurs whose families run businesses enjoy many advantages, but they also bear the weight of expectations. They sometimes feel pressure to live up to traditions, especially if they take over an existing family business. Self-starters, by contrast, have no-one to answer to but themselves. This can be liberating. They are free to grow their business as they see fit.

  • They know how to network

    Self-starters often have a specific set of skills that can help them on the road to success. They are more likely to consider themselves adept at creative thinking, leadership and communication – all skills they can use to their advantage for growing the business. For example, an ability to network effectively can help them forge links with private equity firms, venture capitalists and crowd-funding platforms who can help provide the investment to take their business to the next level.

  • They need strong mentors

    It takes more than capital to succeed, however. With self-starters more likely to face challenges when scaling up their company, it’s vital they have access to sound advice and expertise. These business owners are therefore more likely to join professional networks and programmes designed to support start-ups. Many also seek out mentors, as having a successful entrepreneur on the board boosts credentials, and can increase confidence in the brand.

All types of entrepreneurs have an important role to play in the wider economy, but those who make their own way without the advantages of a family background in business are particularly likely to explore fresh ideas and develop disruptive business models. And every long-running family business was once founded by a self-starter. So it’s vital they can tap into the expertise and support they need to realise their vision.

Understanding the start-up mindset

The Essence of Enterprise 2017 report, commissioned by HSBC Private Banking, is based on a survey of more than 4,000 successful business owners in 11 countries and territories. It explores the habits and hopes of entrepreneurs, giving insight that could help policymakers create a more supportive environment for enterprise.

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