How and why do people choose a status of self-employed?
The 2009 Flash Eurobarometer on Entrepreneurship deals with questions such as the appeal of the self-employed status for non-self-employed people, the experience of setting up a business, the most-feared risks and an evaluation of entrepreneurial difficulties.
This report also provides comparisons between 36 countries, namely: 27 EU countries, countries belonging to EFTA (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland), Turkey, Croatia, as well as the USA, China, Japan, and South Korea.
Generally, since 2004, the percentage of Europeans desirous of becoming self-employed has remained unchanged (45% against 55% in the USA in 2009 where the entrepreneurial fervour is more predominant). In the USA, this desire has declined between 2007 (61%) and 2009 (55%).
According to the survey, the potential European entrepreneur is typically a man, young, who has a high level of education or who is still studying and one or both of whose parents are self-employed.
Recent Entrepreneurial Activity:
- In the EU, Finland and Cyprus had the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity (25% and 19% respectively). On the other hand, Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia had rates of entrepreneurial activity below 10%. Outside the EU, the rate of entrepreneurial activity was the highest in China (27%), followed by Turkey (23%), the USA (21%) and Iceland (20%).
- In the EU, entrepreneurship as an opportunity exceeds entrepreneurship out of necessity (55% compared to 28%).
The status of entrepreneurs
- The image of entrepreneurs has declined. When comparing the 2007 results with those of 2009, respondents in nearly all countries were now more likely to agree that entrepreneurs think only about their wallets or that they exploit the work of others.
- The status of entrepreneurs is very positive in the Scandinavian countries while in Eastern Europe the reputation of entrepreneurs is generally lower. However, in comparison to other professions, entrepreneurs are perceived in a rather positive way: 49% of all Europeans declare having a good opinion of entrepreneurs.
- The USA is the country where entrepreneurs have the best reputation. In Europe, at least half of the population has a favourable image of entrepreneurs, while in China, Japan, and Korea, this ratio is lower.
- Bankruptcy appears to be the main fear in the EU, followed by the uncertainty of receiving a regular income, followed by the risk of losing one’s property.
Employee or self-employed?
- 49% of Europeans prefer employee status, because it is associated with stability of income, and 45% of Europeans prefer a self-employed status.
- For 68% of the people surveyed in 2009, self-accomplishment and independence are the main factors that push them towards being self-employed.
- Having a good business plan and the financial means have been cited as being the main motivational forces in starting up a business.
- The percentage that would prefer to start up a new business is much larger than the percentage that would prefer to take over an existing company: in the EU, 61% for the former and 24% for the latter.
The role of education
- Approximately four in 10 EU citizens agree that their education gave them the skills and know-how to allow them to become entrepreneurs (39%); however, only one quarter agrees that their education helped them acquire an interest in becoming entrepreneurs.
Feasibility of being self-employed
- In nearly half of the countries surveyed, the proportion of respondents that consider being self-employed will be feasible in the next five years has declined by at least five percentage points from 2007 to 2009.
- Focusing on EU citizens under the age of 65, 29% replied that it was not possible for them to be self-employed due to the lack of financial means to set up a business, and 15% replied that it was not the right time due to the current economic climate.
- Approximately 8 in 10 EU citizens agreed that it was difficult to set up a business due to a lack of financial support. A large majority of respondents (71%) also agreed that to set up a business was hard due to the difficulty of the administrative procedures.
Access the summary of the 2004 and 2007 Flash Eurobarometer