The World’s Most Fearless (& Timid) Entrepreneurs [Infographic]


The perceived opportunity for starting a business varies around the world, as a recently released report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows. Yet, the number of people who feel like it is a good moment for entrepreneurs does not evenly correlate with the share of folks who would actually go ahead and give that entrepreneurial idea of theirs a shot.

According to the survey of 170,000 people across 49 countries and territories, some nations are equipped with fearless entrepreneurs who won’t be dissuaded by the general perception that their home isn’t a good place for business startups, while other places have more timid populations that cite fear of failure as a reason not to start a business despite agreement on ample opportunity.

The tendency to be more or less bold in regards to entrepreneurialism is not strictly dictated by a country’s income level either. The parameter influences different levels of business ownership and self-employment around the world as entrepreneurial activity and, to an even higher degree, independent work tend to be more widespread in countries with lower income levels. This is because these countries often lack sufficient opportunities in traditional employment, pushing more people to become their own boss.

For example, the levels of perceived business opportunity are similar in Venezuela and the Netherlands, at a good 60% of respondents seeing favorable conditions to start a business. Around a third of these people—or around 20% of total respondents from each country—would still decline to do so out of fear of failure. This is despite the two countries’ vastly different economic situations. The same can be said about response patterns in Switzerland and Iran, where the two parameters of entrepreneurship are on comparable levels despite diverging economic realities on the ground.

Engrained entrepreneurial spirit?

Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are the countries in the survey where most people saw favorable conditions for starting a business. Yet, more than half of those identifying opportunity wouldn’t act on it in Saudi Arabia, while that share was only a third in Indonesia. These differences persist despite comparably high shares in both countries saying they considered the bureaucratic hurdles to entrepreneurship manageable, had the knowledge to run their own business and also knew other people who had started businesses recently.

While respondents from the U.S. attested to comparably low opportunity, the number of reluctant respondents was also low—in line with the ethos of entrepreneurialism in the country. Again, U.S. answer patterns were close to that of another nation—the U.K.—concerning bureaucratic ease and perceived opportunity. They differed much more, however, in regard to the intention of actually starting a business, hinting at differences more deeply engrained in society. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor identifies diverging ideas on how “collective good is viewed compared to individual success, and how people and groups weigh risk against reward” as factors that could influence individuals’ decisions on a deeper level.

Reluctant response from China and India

Respondents in the rapidly developing economies of China and India acted rather timid in a global comparison. This instance means that in the end, the U.S. still recorded more people seeing potential in starting a business while being unafraid than China, which ranked much higher for opportunity but also for reluctance.

The lowest hesitation, but also one of the lowest assessments of opportunity, was recorded in South Korea. In Japan, finally, only 12.7% thought it was a good moment for entrepreneurs, with around half of them—a tiny 6.2% in total—not ruling out the option of becoming one.

Charted by Statista

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