More than 70 per cent of people in the UK believe it is easy to start a business but less than one in ten have any intention of doing so, with “fear of failure” higher than in many other parts of the world.

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor released today at the Dubai Expo, which measures entrepreneurial activity across 47 countries, found that the UK ranks 32nd in terms of the proportion of people (51%) who believe they have the skills to start their own business. It ranked 40th in “entrepreneurial intentions” as measured by the number of those who intend to start a business in the next three years.

While 61% of Britons said there were good opportunities in their area to start a business, 52% of these people cited fear of failure as a reason for not doing so. That was seventh highest of all the countries surveyed.

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Among those actively involved in starting or running a new business, 36% said it is now more difficult to start a business than a year ago. However, 63% reported using technology to sell more products and services, while 57% were pursuing new opportunities as a result of the pandemic.

Report co-author Sreevas Sahasranamam, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde’s Hunter Centre, said the latter figures were “heartening”. However, he added that the UK continues to perform poorly on entrepreneurial framework conditions when compared to other developed economies with per capita GDP of more than $40,000 (£29,500).

“Among the 17 high-income countries in our sample, UK has an average score of 5.1 for its entrepreneurial finance conditions, while its score for ease of access to entrepreneurial finance of 4.4 is the lowest amongst this group,” he said. “Thus, finance remains a key challenge to entrepreneurial activity in the UK.”