We work with entrepreneurs daily and we’re passionate about creating the businesses of the future. We’ve helped over 350,000 small business owners realise their dream via design.

So we wanted to know exactly how and why they had decided to quit their day job and start a company. We sent out a global survey in 2016 to ask our SME community how they had become a business owner and what really makes them tick.

It’s all about self-fulfilment

Our poll of over 1,700 entrepreneurs from the US, UK, Europe and Australia revealed that becoming a business owner today is about creating a life that works for you. It’s about self-fulfilment, freedom and passion rather than climbing the corporate ladder. They like to teach themselves online and invest in their skills in order to further develop themselves and their businesses; often the first thing they teach themselves is marketing and 28% of respondents said that gaining confidence was the skill they invested in most.

The ability to lead and inspire the team is an essential skill for any entrepreneur looking to grow a business.
- Rishi Chowdhury

Today’s “DIY entrepreneur” has built their business from scratch. The survey showed that 56% of them raised less than $10k to get their business started and 55% of them have less than 2 employees, so their output is impressive based on the resources they have.

Even though being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean being a rich man/woman, more than 87% would do the same thing all over again (founding a business) but avoid some mistakes. 19% consider “not asking for help” as their biggest mistake. 

These are the skills that help you grow

To give your business pace right out of the starting blocks, we asked influencers from the start-up scene what they think is the most important skill for entrepreneurs to be successful in today’s economy. Here’s what they told us:

Personal branding

“I believe it’s extremely tough to select just one skill necessary for entrepreneurs! However — Personal Branding is definitely right up there. People want to do business with people, not corporations. Personal Branding is the key to credibility, influence and sales… by rising above the ever-increasing digital noise.” – Sam Hurley

Leadership skills

“The ability to lead and inspire the team is an essential skill for any entrepreneur looking to grow a business.” – Rishi Chowdhury


“The most important skill for entrepreneurs to be successful in today’s economy is the ability to predict the market. With the pace of change we’re seeing today it’s important to see/be at least one step ahead of the competition, else you’ll find your product is already old news before it comes to market.” – Chris Gledhill


“Authenticity. So many people get caught up in following the crowd that they lose themselves in it. Stand-out entrepreneurs are not part of the crowd, they approach success with a very different mindset. They know who they are, they live from a genuine place and their brands stand heads & shoulders above the rest.” – Sallee Poinsette-Nash

Delegating and trust

“Being able to delegate and trust people to do their jobs. I see so many start-ups where the owners / founders have to do everything, so they end up doing lots of things average or badly. Focus on what you are good at and hire people to do the rest.” – Tim Hughes

We’re proud of what entrepreneurs are achieving and would like to take a moment to celebrate their achievements.  Here’s to the entrepreneurs of today!

Profile of an entrepreneur infographic
99designs customer survey via Qualtrics


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