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Brits have come up with 31 million new business ideas over the past two years alone, according to new research1 from Virgin Money. The pandemic has turbocharged the national entrepreneurial spirit and seen almost 16 million people (29%) come up with a new business idea.

Despite Britain buzzing with business ideas, few put their dreams into a reality. Just one in three (37%) have aspirations to turn their ideas into a business, even though the majority of them (72%) have a clear idea of what their business should be and more than half (55%) would describe their ideas as something new, unusual or different.

Fewer still have actually taken the plunge, with just one in 20 (5%) having started their own business already. Worries about personal finances (36%) and a fear of failure (36%) are the top factors stopping potential entrepreneurs from turning an idea into a reality, while the rising cost of doing business (30%), ability to secure funding (29%) and having the self-confidence to take the plunge (28%) are other common barriers.

Emmanuel Asuquo, small business owner and financial advisor to a diverse range of entrepreneurs, commented: “There are so many innovators and inventors across the country but sometimes it can be daunting to take that first step. It would be great to see more people trying to set out on their own, even as a side hustle, as starting a business is one of the most exciting and fulfilling things you can do. The UK start up scene is respected for its ingenuity and flair but we can always do with more creative minds!”

Young people show the most entrepreneurial spirit, with around half of both 16-24 year olds (49%) and 25-34 year olds (51%) having had a new business brainwave in the last two years, compared to just a third of those aged 35-44 (35%).

The top three factors that would make people finally take the leap are making money (37%), believing in their idea (25%) and to feel satisfied and fulfilled (21%). Tentative entrepreneurs should take comfort in the fact that many entrepreneurs themselves (41%) said they never expected to start their own business and that the majority (57%) never had a ‘lightbulb moment’ despite common stereotypes.

Graeme Sands, Interim Head of Business Banking at Virgin Money said: “The UK is a nation buzzing with entrepreneurial ideas, and it’s impressive that we’ve collectively come up with 31 million potential ideas since the pandemic began. It’s natural that budding entrepreneurs will have doubts about taking the leap and turning their idea into a business, but it’s clear to us that anyone can make it a success with the right support around them, some hard work – and a little bit of luck.”

Virgin Money recently launched its new business current account for Upstarts to build their business. M Account for Business comes with no monthly fee and free digital transactions to put Upstarts back in control. The account has been designed for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses with an annual turnover of under £1 million, and it is digital-first so people can access their business account online however they like, and wherever they are.

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About the research

1Online surveys were carried out among 1,000 UK small business owners and entrepreneurs, and 2,020 UK consumers in November 2021.