Entrepreneurs lack intrinsic appetite for risk and adventure


The study, carried out by AXA Business Insurance and Psychological Consultancy Limited, in conjunction with the Association of Business Psychologists, found that small business owners were far more likely to maintain wary, prudent and deliberate (calculated) traits than the general population.

- Press Release -

A study into the psychology and risk behaviours amongst British entrepreneurs has found that they demonstrate a far more prudent and risk-averse attitude than the general public.

The study, carried out by AXA Business Insurance and Psychological Consultancy Limited, in conjunction with the Association of Business Psychologists, found that small business owners were far more likely to maintain wary, prudent and deliberate (calculated) traits than the general population.

Contrary to stereotypical perceptions of entrepreneurs as maverick individuals with an inherent appetite for risk, the analysis found that the majority (52 percent) of respondents fell within one of three risk types: wary (22 percent), prudent (15.2 percent) or deliberate (14.8 percent) – please see appendix for all eight risk types and definitions.

Moreover, the entrepreneurs surveyed showed far less adventurous characteristics (3.6 percent) than the average public (12.8 percent).

Despite the seemingly conservative approach taken by entrepreneurs, the research found that individuals who are more calm, confident, optimistic, organised, methodical and measured have greater financial resources and may, therefore, be more successful small business owners.

Darrell Sansom, Managing Director at AXA Business Insurance commented:

“We often think of entrepreneurs as being adventurous renegades, renouncing the more common commercial work environment in search of their own fortunes and in support of their passions. It’s encouraging to see the level of vigilance they employ when compared with the broader population, as from our experience, those businesses featuring more diligent management teams have traditionally been more successful in the longer term.”

The business owners surveyed represented limited companies, sole traders and partnerships. Those involved in partnerships were more likely to be wary, prudent and composed, when compared to their entrepreneur peers; whereas sole traders demonstrated more carefree, intense and spontaneous qualities, suggesting the nature of their roles allows for more flexibility in their decision-making. Those representing limited companies showed a proportionate balance across wary, prudent and deliberate risk types.

Sansom continued: “Although demonstrating a contradiction to general perceptions around ‘what makes an entrepreneur’, we welcome the fact that business owners are more measured and calculated in their approach. Any business, regardless of sector or the level of experience running it, would be unsustainable without its leaders having clear goals and ambitions, and a practical roadmap, grounded in reality, to achieving these.”



John Heredea – Paratus Communications: 020 7908 6476 / 0791 031 5598

Helene Barnes - AXA Business Insurance press office: 020 7400 1907

Notes to Editors

the survey of 250 UK business owners was carried out by Psychological Consultancy Limited (PCL), in conjunction with the Association of Business Psychologists, on behalf of AXA Business Insurance. Respondents to the survey represented business owners from Limited Companies, Partnerships or Sole Traders, across a broad range of sectors throughout the UK.

Respondents were aged 18 and over, though the majority (more than three-quarters) were aged between 31 and 60 years. A general population sample of 2,000 individuals was also used to compare the results against.

About AXA Business Insurance

AXA is one of the largest general insurers in the UK and underwrites a broad range of products for individuals and businesses. AXA Business Insurance offers business insurance for sole traders, the self-employed and small businesses through its website www.axainsurance.com/business and is designed to make buying insurance fast, secure, convenient and easy-to-use. Small businesses can choose Public Liability, Employers’ Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance and can tailor cover to their own requirements.

About AXA

AXA UK is a part of the AXA Group. The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 163,000 employees serving 101 million clients in 57 countries. In 2011, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 86.1 billion and IFRS Underlying Earnings to Euro 3.9 billion. AXA had Euro 1,065 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2011.

In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth; AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, AXA Personal Direct and Partnerships, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 12,000 staff in the UK.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD, and is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance.

About Psychological Consultancy Limited

Since 1992, Psychological Consultancy Limited’s firm of business psychologists has worked with organisations to deliver assessment solutions for selection, personal development, team building, leadership development and employee engagement. Their offering spans psychometric products, evidence-based consultancy services and training in psychometrics. Results-driven, accountable and progressive - PCL is committed to techniques that are genuinely capable of improving managerial and HR decisions. For more information, see www.psychological-consultancy.com