Report by Department of Business, Innovation and Skills suggests gender and socio-economic factors behind business owners’ attitudes to growing their business
Male business owners are more likely to be ‘growth-inclined’ in their approach than their female counterparts, according to a paper by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
The report The Sociology of Enterprise is based on a consultation with small business owners from across the UK. In one section of the paper it splits them into three categories thus:
- Growth-inclined owners Owners who are strongly disposed to grow their business. Owners tended to provide narratives demonstrating a strong vision of growth for their business and a clear commitment towards achieving it.
- Growth-resistant owners Owners who are clearly indisposed to grow their business. Business owners provided narratives that did not demonstrate a strong vision of growth for their business and generally do not want to employ staff or take on financial commitments that would support future growth.
- Growth-ambivalent owners Owners who broadly sit between the other two groups. They are not actively seeking growth and do not proactively seek to identify opportunities, but may pursue opportunities for growth which are presented to them, if they are perceived to have relatively low risks.
The research found that overall 48% of those polled are growth-inclined, 28% growth-resistant and 24% growth-ambivalent. Furthermore it found that those in the growth-inclined category are most likely to be men and that women are over-represented in the growth-resistant demographic.
Of the women who are growth-inclined, a large proportion come from families and backgrounds of high managerial experience and large entrepreneurial networks. Few entrepreneurs who identified as growth-inclined came from low socio-economic backgrounds; and they were all men.
Age is another factor highlighted in the report. Business owners over 50 were much more likely to be growth-resistant than their younger contemporaries. Many of the men in this group were formally in the growth-inclined group, suggesting a “downshifting’ of ambition with age.
The research also looked at the effect of growth ambition on turnover. Growth-inclined businesses are most likely to have increased their turnover by 25% or more over the past two years (54%), followed by growth-ambivalent (32%) and growth-resistant (25%). Growth-resistant businesses were also more likely to have seen a decline in turnover. One in five had seen this, compared to 11% of growth-inclined and 5% of growth-ambivalent businesses.