Brighter days ahead: British entrepreneurs hopeful for 2024

A group of Virgin StartUp founders in a meeting around a long table
Virgin StartUp
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
8 December 2023

Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, according to new research from Virgin StartUp, which revealed that two-thirds of small business founders are confident their businesses will be in a stronger financial position in six months’ time.  

The data comes from the first-ever Founder Barometer from Virgin StartUp, which will find out how UK entrepreneurs are feeling every six months and share what is important to them.  

The Founder Barometer revealed business founders are focusing on building greener businesses next year. More than half of founders said they believe their customers care about sustainability and almost all of them said they will be exploring ways to make their operations more sustainable in the next 12 months. 

Chair of Virgin StartUp, Linda Grant with the Managing Director, Andy Fishburn
Virgin StartUp

It also revealed how a lack of economic stability is impacting the stress levels of founders. When asked about the state of their mental health, Britain's founders rated this just five out of 10 on average, demonstrating more needs to be done to support Britain’s hard-working entrepreneurs. 

But optimism remains high with most new business founders saying they are planning to hire at least one employee in the next year – and more than half planning to bring at least four new people into their team. 

Andy Fishburn, Managing Director at Virgin StartUp, commented: “It’s important to hear directly from small business owners and start-ups which is why we decided to launch our bi-annual Founder Barometer survey. Despite a testing year, it’s encouraging to hear that many business founders are invigorated and are heading into the new year with a positive outlook.” 

The research also revealed a strong sense of inequality with more female entrepreneurs saying that government policy has failed to create an environment where their business can thrive than their male counterparts. However, the inequality spreads beyond gender, with nearly half of entrepreneurs in the north of England feeling the political landscape and policy changes haven’t created a positive environment, compared to just 21% in the south.  

The team from Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

Founders also called out the need for greater support for underrepresented founders – female, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, and disabled founders, as well as better access to Start Up Loans, and greater access to mentorship programmes and schemes. 

Andy added: “Virgin StartUp has always been proud to offer a voice for the start-up community and particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. We know that more support, including funding, is always required, and we have committed to helping many more exciting and brave founders reach their potential. By launching our Founder Barometer, we will now be able to provide a benchmark with which we test and look to improve how we do business, not just in the present but the future too. We’re committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with founders, in both the good times and the bad. Put simply, we want to be a business for good, now and always.” 

As a not-for-profit organisation, Virgin StartUp is a national Business Support Partner for the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loan programme and has distributed 5,500 Start Up Loan – that’s £75 million in funding – to early-stage business founders since 2013, helping these founders to start, scale and succeed. Virgin StartUp is committed to levelling the playing field for women who are starting and scaling businesses, through the 50/50 funding pledge and by working to proactively address the barriers faced by women starting their own businesses. 

Visit Virgin StartUp to find out more about the support it offers.