TV entrepreneurs don’t reflect real life

The answer’s no, according to most respondents in the two latest in-depth surveys of small business owners and business advisers from Nottingham University Business School.

For the fourth quarter editions of the UK Business Barometer (UKBB) and UK Business Advisers Barometer (UKBAB) surveys three questions about the media’s portrayal of enterprise and entrepreneurs were added and the results reveal some frustration from people running small businesses that media portrayals don’t match their experiences and the challenges they face.

When asked to what extent media reporting reflects their experiences, out of all participants in the UK Business Barometer, only 11 per cent thought media reporting reflected their experiences. Of the business advisers responding to the UKBAB, only 20 per cent were able to say that media reporting reflects their experiences highly or reasonably highly, while 35 per cent said that it does not reflect their experience at all, or not much.

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Participants were also asked whether they thought that the media’s portrayal of ‘celebrity entrepreneurs’ distorted the public perception of entrepreneurs in general. A total of 81 per cent of UKBB respondents and 75 per cent from the UKBAB panel thought this was the case to a high or reasonably high extent while only four per cent thought this didn’t happen at all, or not much.

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Over 70 per cent of respondents said that they thought it would be highly worthwhile or reasonably worthwhile for some business advisers to work directly with media to improve the quality and coverage of smaller businesses.

Not everyone felt celebrity entrepreneurs in the media have a negative effect. One business adviser said “I work with schools, raising awareness of business enterprise to students under the age of 16 and I believe the ‘celebrity entrepreneur’ has had a positive impact with this group.”

The Director of UNIEI, Professor Martin Binks, said: “If these views are representative of the general picture then they raise important questions as to where people can find accurate information on which to base decisions about being an entrepreneur. At a time when so much emphasis is placed on the crucial importance of entrepreneurship, this perception may have significant implications for informed decision making.”

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