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18 May, 2005

Changing Lifestyles, Shifting Societies

Britain’s much vaunted ‘enterprise culture’ is little more than rhetoric, according to MORE TH>N Business. Research commissioned by the small business insurer, the direct arm of Royal & SunAlliance UK, found that alterpreneurs , not entrepreneurs, are the bedrock of Britain’s small business community.

MORE TH>N Business has published the Health, Wealth & Happiness Report, which assesses the factors motivating Britain’s micro business owner-managers – a sector traditionally seen as a hotbed of entrepreneurial endeavour. The report, available from www.alterpreneur.co.uk, identifies the rise of a new class of micro business owner, the alterpreneurs – lifestyle-focused business people – who are taking over from the finance and career orientated entrepreneurs.

According to MORE TH>N Business, the majority of people starting businesses should be classed as alterpreneurs, rather than entrepreneurs. It found that:

<> Less than a quarter (23%) set up their firms in order to make lots of money;

<> 60% went into business in order to get more control over their lives;

<> 54% said they went into business in order to be ‘happier’;

<> Just 3% said they wanted to emulate high profile entrepreneurs like Richard Branson.

These ‘alterpreneurs’ see quitting corporate life and starting their own firms as a lifestyle, rather than a career, choice. They want an alternative to the nine-to-five of a traditional job, and the ‘one size fits all’ lifestyle that goes with it. They have set up on their own in an attempt to take back (or retain) control over their lives. They don’t live to work – they work to live. The way they run those businesses, and their ambitions for the future, reflect this.

<> 85% say quality of life is more important than money when it comes to business planning;

<> 70% say they are happy and comfortable with their business as they are;

<> 56% never want to employ more than 10 staff.

Rachel Cotton, Manager, MORE TH>N Business, said: “This research confirms something we already suspected, that the majority of people running Britain’s smallest businesses are not interested in significant growth. Along with feedback from our own customers, this research leaves us in no doubt that we are seeing a reaction against the steadily increasing pace of modern life. Alterpreneurs are motivated by lifestyle rather than career or financial ambitions, which is reflected in a steadier, more relaxed approach to business.”

There is certainly no shortage of focus from government on identifying and nurturing the traditional entrepreneur. Interestingly, however, MORE TH>N Business’s research provides conclusive proof that alterpreneurs form a distinct and valuable sector of the small business market – around 70%. Three quarters of micro business owners say government needs to do more to support those small firms that do not have ambitious growth plans – it is clear that their needs should not be underestimated.

Stephen Alambritis, Head of Parliamentary Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), commented: “Working for yourself can be a great lifestyle choice. Despite the hard work and long hours involved, very few people who have made the leap would consider returning to the nine-to-five world again.

“The Government is missing the target by aiming support at start-ups with big growth plans, when many businesses are happy as they are. There needs to be a greater focus on established firms, and moves to tackle the administrative headache of taking on employees to make growing a business more appealing.

MORE TH>N is the direct arm of Royal & SunAlliance UK. To read the full Health, Wealth & Happiness Report, to find out more about the alterpreneur lifestyle, visit www.alterpreneur.co.uk

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