Barriers to Enterprise

The Separation Wall - Palestine

I am starting a collection of barriers to enterprise – reasons why people do not put their enterprising ideas into practice.

My collections is a little small at the moment – so please help me by using the comments box to add to the collection:

  1. If I start my own business I will lose my benefits and be worse off – The Benefits Barrier
  2. I don’t have the ability to run my own business – The Confidence Barrier
  3. I don’t have any ideas for a new business – The Creativity Barrier
  4. Whatever I try to do will end in a mess – The Confidence Barrier II
  5. I don’t have any cash to help me start up a business – The Access to Finance Barrier
  6. I can’t start a business – who would look after the kids – The Childcare Barrier
  7. I haven’t got anywhere to run a business from – The Premises Barrier
  8. I haven’t got any way of getting around – the Transport Barrier
  9. If I start a busniess the taxman will not make it worth my while – The Taxation Barrier
  10. I don’t know how to go about employing people – The ‘HR’ Barrier

So please add to my collection – either new barriers or different examples of the barriers already identified. Then perhaps we can look at ways to remove them…


  1. How about the “culture” barrier; what will my friends, family, partner, neighbours think! Or even the “popular culture” barrier, when TV programmes such as Shameless glorify the benefit trap – and watch any soap and spot the villain, he’s usually self-employed, a small business person or an entrepreneur. No wonder blitzing council estates with a ton of leaflets enquiring whether anyone has any enterprise yearnings tend to be a waste of wood pulp.

  2. Thanks Phil! You are so right about the negative stereotyping of the self-employed. From Coronation St through to Shameless the entrepreneur is nearly always the bad guy!
    The Culture Barrier definitley makes it into my collection!

  3. Great start to the list!

    How about the “sure it’s been done before” barrier? where you just don’t think your idea is that original? (is this just confidence?)

    Or the “corporation safety” barrier – where you’d just much rather implement your idea within the safety of an existing oragnisation?

  4. Hi Mike

    In my humble experience the real barrier is one of confidence. We dress up our fears in lots of ‘socailly acceptable’ excuses but when you work through all of those statements, it boils down to a instrumental fear of failure that we brits seem to inheritantly have.

    I passionate believe in enterprise as a viable option and the support offered is to be commended. But for me the very neccessary foundations of confidence building are still very much missing from most supporting agencies plans.

    Without a foundation of confidence, self belief and trust no amount of offered support and encouragement will enable people to release and reach their true potential.

    And I agree 101% with adviser negativity. Though I think I would term it a little differently (not that I’m renowned for being diplomatic lol). But attitude is contagious, be it great attitude or dire. An advisers opinion is taken at face value, especially by an inexperienced new entrepreneur. How many dreams have been crushed by an ill thought out off the cuff remark from a advisers who’s been pushed to achieve targets for start ups advised or VAT registrations ?

    How do we change that ? Well the culture of business support has to change first. Stop chasing just the numbers, get the quality and focus right and you’ll be amased at how results can flourish and most importantly, in a real, relevant, tangible and sustainable manner !

  5. Hallelujah Marie!

    Confidence is nearly always the limiting barrier I think. The rest are usually just excuses! There are 2 things I think advisers/helpers can do. Firstly they can work directly on the clients self esteem and self belief while de-bunking the myth that entrepreneurs are somehow ‘special ones’. This is very different from working on a business plan!

    Secondly help the client to work on developing a clarity of vision or a goal for the new enterprise that is sufficiently attractive to provide a real pull. Help them to develop what my friend Anne calls ‘well formed pathways’.

    However much of what is being done at the moment is working with those who are already ‘enterprise ready’ or close to it. People who have seen how enterpise works or already have an idea that it might be for them. I htink that outputs and targets do exert an infleunce here as providers tend to target and focus on the ‘low hanging fruit’ as the easiest way to ‘deliver the numbers’. However this adds little value to the long term ambition of developing an ‘enterprise culture’.

    I am working on ideas that might help to reach those who have never considered enterprise and who consider themselves stuck. Helping them to engage with the potential and possibiliites of enterpise as a means of self expression, self development and economic advancement (in that order needs more than a lot of leaflet drops and adverts on buses! I think this demands a much broader definition of enterprise. One that includes almost any action taken to try to improve ones lot. If we set the bar at ‘starting a business’ or ‘becoming self employed’ then that is just too big a jump for many. There have to be smaller steps that they can identify for themsleves that lead to them being ‘more enteprising’ and more confident in their own ability to make positive stuff happen. These smaller steps have to be generated from the person own hope and ambition for themselves – NOT from some policy objective (like promoting enterprise or tackling worklessness/obesity/substance misuse/anti-social behaviour etc. I believe that when we start to facilitate hope and aspiration in this way we will start to empower more people to access the kinds of services that they currently resist – because they are being pushed on them. For more on this see the ‘Realising Community Development’ page on the menu top right.

    So Marie – many thanks for taking the time to post. It put a real smile on my face!


  1. […] is a link here to my earlier post on barriers to enterprise.  ‘Adviser negativity’ surely has to be added to the […]

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