Do Americans value business entrepreneurship and risk taking more than the British do?

by | Small Business Consulting

Have you ever read survey results that left you scratching your head? That happened to us recently, when we read about a survey conducted by AXA Business Insurance.

Entrepreneurship - Original Survey by MP Star Financial

The survey asked 342 British small business owners whether or not they identified themselves as entrepreneurs and:

  • 45% of small business owners identify with the entrepreneur label
  • 44% “reject the title outright”
  • 11% aren’t sure

When asked what traits they associated with entrepreneurship, the top answers were:

  • Innovative
  • Risk taking
  • Successful
  • Rich
  • Driven
  • Ambitious

AXA’s managing director suspects that the word “entrepreneur” is being associated with wealthy celebrity entrepreneurs, with the idea that “an entrepreneur is someone who flies in from New York every day.” He also believes that the term “entrepreneur” is too closely associated with risk taking, which might not feel comfortable to his surveyed population.

MP Star Financial conducts its own survey: 97% call themselves entrepreneurs

We reached out to small business owners and got responses from 113 of them, 107 from the United States.

And, unlike the British study, 110 of them self-identify with being an entrepreneur! So, what’s the difference? Does a business owner in America have a different connotation of entrepreneurship? Is he or she more willing to take risks; therefore, the term isn’t off putting? What do you think?

Most important traits

Both groups were asked about the traits most necessary for success in business ownership (although we’re not suggesting that the exact same wording was used). Here are the results of the British study as compared to our study:

British study resultsMP Star Financial study results
PositivityRisk taker

Again, what are your thoughts? Here are some comments from those we surveyed.


Gary Schreiner

Gary Schreiner

“Passion. Passion for your business, passion for serving others and passion for life drive you to create and build something meaningful . . . I dared to have a dream and pursue it when the safe thing to do would have been to remain a cog in someone else’s wheel.” (Gary L. Schreiner, JD, CPO, CPMT, Unconquerable International)


Bob Shirilla

Bob Shirilla

“To be a successful entrepreneur, you must go hard every minute of every day. Passion will keep your internal motor running 24/7. Most small businesses fail because the owner does not possess passion.” (Bob Shirilla, who calls himself a “serial entrepreneur since birth,” Simply Bags)



Risk taker

Jasmin Myers

Jasmin Myers

“My drive to create and build something of my own surpasses my desire for security . . . there’s a great quote by Dave Ramsey that says, ‘If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.’ An entrepreneur – especially a boot-strapper and/or startup – must believe this to navigate the twists and turns of the entrepreneurial journey.” (Jasmine Myers, Bama+Ry)


Karla Z

Karla Zehnder

“Being an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with taking risks, especially small calculated risk, to endure the economic and emotional ups and downs of business, as well as sometimes taking significant personal risk. Being an entrepreneur is more about strategy than gambling.” (Karla Zehnder, Hodgson Consulting & Solutions)


Jim and Amy Schneider

Jim and Amy Schneider

“Be brave enough to take a risk. Choosing to leave the safety net of a fulltime job to pursue your own business takes a lot of guts, and a lot of belief in your abilities and the core idea for the business.” (Jim and Amy Schneider, Eyes of Faith Optical)





Patrick Cullen

Patrick Cullen

“Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a warrior. You’re constantly fighting for what you want. For me, this has, and always will be, freedom. Freedom to do the things that I want, whenever I want. Freedom to spend more time with friends and family. Freedom to no longer trade time for money. I’m an entrepreneur, because I’m a believer and a freedom fighter.” (Patrick Cullen, Panda Bear Linens)


Brandon Kelly

Brandon Kelly

“Without passion, determination and persistence, one cannot qualify as an entrepreneur. All three traits are required to cultivate the vision for your business, see it through and then also rebound from failure. I consider myself an entrepreneur because I have not only made the difficult decision to go out on my own, but I am also the person responsible for charting the course, rebounding from unexpected outcomes and then forging my business ahead in unchartered territory.” (Brandon Kelly, NYC Vanity)



Lori Osterberg

Lori Osterberg

“Persistence is necessary when things don’t quite go your way. If you can’t stay strong and hold on, you’ll lose the chance to grow a business and make a difference in the world.” (Lori Osterberg,




Sean Dudayev

“When things get tough . . . you have to have the mental and emotional fortitude to keep going.” (Sean Dudayev, Insurechance, Inc.)




 Notes about those living outside the United States

As mentioned above, six (updated to seven on 1/7/15) of our respondents are not from the US, although four of those are from North America (all Canadians). One of the Canadians, Nima Noori, scored the LOWEST in his university when taking a personality quiz for entrepreneurship – and yet, he identifies himself as an entrepreneur and shared with us that he owns Canada’s largest e-commerce retailer of vaporizers and vaporizer accessories, a multi-million dollar business.

One of our respondents, Matthew Turner, is from Halifax in the United Kingdom. He identifies himself as an entrepreneur, and the three traits for success that he listed are perseverance, adaptability and self-belief. Liz Dexter is from Birmingham, UK, and she identifies herself as an entrepreneur; her three traits: creativity, persistence, self-belief. The final participant, Azouz Gmach, is from Tunisia.

Entrepreneurship Survey - Infographic by MP Star Financial

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Small business owners – please share your thoughts! Do you identify yourself as an entrepreneur? What traits are vital for success? Please share your comments.

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