Research Findings

What motivates entrepreneurs to launch their own business? What business tasks do they focus on most to be successful? Who do they turn to for guidance and expertise? These are all questions our Essence of Enterprise research answers.

What we discovered

The landscape of entrepreneurship is changing. We’re seeing a growing number of young entrepreneurs, starting out in their 20s, but also more and more people are considering a new career in their 50s and 60s and launching their own business.

Our research shows that a transition is taking place and that entrepreneurial culture is changing. In this report we explore three aspects of this change:

1. Exploring the value of social capital – Driven by the technology revolution and political and economic change, entrepreneurs are increasingly focusing on their networks, their relationships and their reputation to propel their businesses forward.

This is most noticeable in the Millennial generation of entrepreneurs who are more likely to be driven by the desire to increase their influence and have a positive impact on others than their parents’ generation. Those over the age of 50 are more likely to have prioritised personal autonomy and the opportunity to create wealth for themselves and their families.

The motivations entrepreneurs have when setting up their businesses have deep implications for how they will do business. This research therefore underscores that we are at the cusp of that transition in our business culture.

2. Optimising personal performance – Our research also highlights that many entrepreneurs have an effective strategy in place to manage their time and optimise their personal performance. Indeed, 83 per cent of entrepreneurs worldwide state they have achieved a good work-life balance, which in practical terms currently equates to an average of 10.1 hours spent each day on business tasks.

During these hours, those in the Millennial age group most noticeably are focusing more time on strategy and staff management as they seek to get the best from those around them, while simultaneously freeing up more personal time to do the things they care about.

Looking ahead, we explore how entrepreneurs might further optimise their future performance as businesses connect more with society and the communities around them. We want to lift the lid on how entrepreneurship is changing to reflect gender and age demographics.

Diversity is widely acknowledged as a driver for improved business performance, yet as entrepreneurs face many challenges to growing their businesses, gender or age equality may not always make it to the top of the priority list.

3. Building strength in numbers – Finally, aligned with the increasing focus on social capital in business, several of our contributors comment on the vital role that mentors, networks and teams have played in their success.

Their stories highlight that successful entrepreneurship does not happen in a vacuum. A winning formula may be the result of the leadership of one individual or small group of individuals, but their ability to succeed almost always relies on others.

Entrepreneurship is often described as a journey during which individuals start, expand and exit the businesses they establish. Yet, with more than 400 million entrepreneurs globally, there are as many journeys as there are individuals.

In this year’s report, we invite you to meet some of them and to learn from their stories as we explore these themes.


The research findings referenced in this report are based on an online survey of 4,038 entrepreneurs which was carried out in September 2016. The research covers 11 markets: USA, UK, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Singapore, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Switzerland.

The minimum personal wealth level of the survey respondents was USD250,000 and the average wealth of the participants in this research was USD2.1 million.

All survey respondents were major shareholders and active decision-makers in privately-owned businesses.