Entrepreneurs Daunted by Real World

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in young Russians, a poll published on Friday showed. It’s only after they finish university and go out into the real world that they lose their desire to be their own boss.

About 67 percent of Russians aged 18 to 24 said they were planning to start their own business, according to state pollster VTsIOM. But of those aged 25 to 34, only 37 percent have considered working for themselves, and only 26 percent of those aged 35 to 44 consider themselves potential entrepreneurs.

About 82 percent of respondents said they have never tried to open their own business, and about half said they would never do it. A full 11 percent of respondents said they had tried to launch their own business but failed.

One problem may be that would-be entrepreneurs don’t know about the resources available to small business owners. Only 20 people have come in for assistance this year at the Orenburg office of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Russia. Orenburg has a population of about 530,000 people.

“It must be people’s mentality. They get it from their parents, who grew up in Soviet times,” said Igor Popov, deputy head of the association’s Orenburg office. “A lack of information on how to start a business is also a problem. The municipal government supports startups with interest and rent subsidies, but there are few who know about it.”

A lack of startup capital and an overbearing bureaucracy are the biggest problems for new businessmen, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,600 people in 140 cities and towns in early July.

A full 82 percent of respondents said having enough startup capital is the most important factor for a small business, while 44 percent said that having the right connections was the chief concern.

Experience and education were ranked as most important by only 29 percent and 23 percent of those polled, respectively. Every fifth respondent from Moscow or St. Petersburg named corruption as a major problem for small businesses, while only 7 percent to 9 percent of those living in smaller cities or rural areas consider corruption a serious problem for business.

Service is far and away the most popular industry for future small-business owners. Twenty-two percent of respondents want to open a grocery store, while 8 percent want to provide housekeeping and laundry services, according to a VTsIOM poll published last month.

Agricultural enterprises are the goal of 7 percent, and only 5 percent of respondents would get involved with construction, the poll said.