British business owners don’t like to fail, but they’re more likely to bounce back

New research by Vistaprint reveals British business owners could be more resilient in the face of failure than their continental counterparts. Nearly two thirds (63%) would launch a new company if they had to close their first one, the highest out of entrepreneurs from the four countries surveyed.

The international study surveyed 2000 business owners from the UK, Germany, France and Italy – investigating their attitudes towards failure in business.

While entrepreneurial Brits are willing to give business ownership another go, they can still be tough on themselves. Two-thirds of British business owners (62%) admit that it is hard for them to overcome failure. The Italians are even less forgiving, with 70% admitting it’s hard for them to bounce back and almost half (49%) claiming its unacceptable to fail in business. German entrepreneurs are far more positive about failure in business, as only 18% feel it’s unacceptable – the lowest of all countries.

The research also supports the stereotype that Brits are more self-deprecating, as almost half of UK entrepreneurs (49%) say that they had no clue what they were doing when they started their first business. Only 33% of Italian and French and 39% of German entrepreneurs agree with this statement. Overall, it takes business owners from all countries an average of three years after starting their business to get to grips with everything it entails.

Although British entrepreneurs struggle to overcome failure in business and are critical of their abilities, their mistakes aren’t as costly as some of the other countries surveyed. The average cost of the biggest business mistake for British business owners is €6,137, the second lowest after French entrepreneurs, whose biggest business error sets them back an average of €5,446. For Italian business owners the average cost is €10,951 – twice as high as the French.

When asked how they deal with failure, UK entrepreneurs say they are most likely to learn from their mistakes, move on and take responsibility – findings which are in line with their European neighbours. While British business owners are resilient, shown by their willingness to launch a new company after failure, they are less forgiving of other business owners. Only 37% of Brits would partner with an entrepreneur who previously failed, while the figure for German and French business owners is 47% and 44% respectively.

Vistaprint Customer Strategy and Insights Director Simon Braier comments: “Our research highlights some interesting differences in how European entrepreneurs feel about setbacks, but what unites them is their overall perseverance in the face of challenges. We want to encourage small business owners by showing them that things going wrong is part and parcel of entrepreneurship, and rather than let it hold them back, they should treat their business hiccups as a positive learning experience.”

Notes to editors

Vistaprint surveyed 2000 business owners across four countries (UK, Germany, Italy and France). Each country had a sample of 500 small business owners

You can see an infographic that accompanies the research here.