Aspiring entrepreneurs ‘stifled by cost-of-living crisis’

Female Fashion Designer In Studio Working On Sketches Or Documents At Desk With Laptop Nearly half of Northern Ireland’s budding entrepreneurs see the cost-of-living crisis as a main barrier holding them back from starting a business (monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Nearly half of budding entrepreneurs (47%) in Northern Ireland - the highest proportion in the UK - see the cost-of-living crisis as a main barrier holding them back from starting a business.

That was among the key findings of research commissioned by the AI-driven business planning enterprise Venture Planner, which tested the views of people who had previously considered starting their own business.

And underlining the prevalence of money-related concerns, 28% of respondents in the north also outlined ‘perceptions of the financial cost’ as a key barrier holding them back from starting a business.

The biggest external, societal pressure deterring aspirational entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland was also related to finance - the need to sustain personal or family needs, which was chosen by 44% of the sample.

The perceived risk factor in starting a business among family and friends was another inhibitor to entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents say that the risk associated with starting a business is either regarded with scepticism by family or friends, or as something which is only pursued if one has no other employment options.

Alex Clansey, co-founder and chief executive of Venture Planner, said: “With analysts highlighting an economic growth rate of less than 0.1% this year in Northern Ireland, entrepreneurial caution is understandable but setting up a new business doesn’t have to be a risky business.

“Our AI-driven platform is designed to break down the barriers, to help anyone, from seasoned entrepreneurs to aspiring solo business owners, confidently navigate the complexities of business planning and financial management.”

But the survey did show that those who are motivated at least to dream of setting up their own business are driven by a desire for greater flexibility.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) in Northern Ireland, a full 25% more than their counterparts in any other UK region, said their dream job would be in a different sector to the one they are working in now, due to a desire to achieve a different lifestyle or work-life balance.

Nicola McKenzie, co-founder of Venture Planner (, added: “The findings underline a significant shift towards seeking flexibility and a balanced lifestyle, which is markedly more pronounced in Northern Ireland compared to other regions.

“This desire for autonomy and the need to supplement income amidst financial pressures are powerful drivers for entrepreneurship.

“It’s clear that while the cost of living crisis presents challenges, it also propels individuals to pursue entrepreneurship as a pathway to achieve personal and financial fulfillment.

“Venture Planner is committed to supporting these aspirational entrepreneurs by providing the tools and resources they need to turn their dreams into viable, thriving businesses.”