A big thank you to everyone who completed our Startup Survey recently. We were delighted with the number of responses and the range of information provided! We have summarised the answers we received to each question below with a pie chart and a short description.

Q1. How long ago did you start your business?

Less than 3 months – 24%
Less than 6 months – 20%
Less than 12 months – 25%
Less than 24 months – 31%

The survey respondents represented a very even spread in terms of the four categories provided. However, 69% of businesses included in the survey are still under 12 months old.

Q2. Why did you start your own business?

I wanted to be my own boss – 35%
I lost my job or  had a lack of job security – 23%
I had a brilliant idea / product – 25%
Other – 17%

Given that Aberdeen is going through a difficult time economically it was not surprising that lack of job security (or having already lost a job) was the reason given by 23% of respondents for starting their own business. However wanting to be your own boss was still the most popular answer at 35%, and many of the ‘Other’ respondents noted either “all of the above” or wanting “to be in control of their own future”.

Q3. Do you currently work on your business full-time or part-time?

Full-time (with no other employment) – 66%
Part-time (with other part-time employment) – 19%
In my spare-time (with full-time employment) – 15%

Somewhat surprisingly 66% of respondents are fully self employed, with 75% of businesses under 3 months old being run on a full-time basis. Traditionally a lot of startups are run on a part-time basis until the business owner starts to generate an income. Recently however redundancies in the city may have contributed to the new businesses being run full-time from the outset.

Q4. What sector is your business in?

Business Services – Legal / Financial – 5%
Business Services – Marketing / Design – 22%
Business Services – General – 30%
Trades – Plumbing, Electrical, Building etc. – 13%
ICT – Comms / IT / Software / Web – 10%
Manufacturing / Production – 7%
Consumer Services – 3%
Retail – 10%

This was a tricky question as it is impossible to cover all the options – and for some reason we forgot to include an ‘Other’ category so around 30% of respondents skipped this question, presumably as they didn’t feel they fitted in any of the given categories. Of those who did respond 57% offer business services, with 22% in the marketing/design sector and 30% classing themselves as general.

Q5. How many people are there in your startup company?

Only me – 71%
Myself and one other – 19%
Less than 5 – 7%
Less than 10 – 2%
10 or more – 1%

Most early stage startups are founded and run by an individual, who may or not intend to employ people further down the line. However it is still interesting to note that a huge 90% of our respondents are in a business run by only 1 or 2 people!

Q6. Which organisations/resources did you turn to for advice and support? (tick all that apply)

Elevator – 50%
Business Gateway – 66%
Scottish Enterprise – 12.5%
Prince’s Trust – 4%
Chamber of Commerce – 12.5%
Aberdeen Business Network – 25%
Existing Business Owners – 41%
Friends/Family – 57%
Other (Please specify) – 16%

It was good to see a variety of responses for this question, but interesting to note that over half the respondents turned to friends and family for advice and support. In the ‘Other’ category answers given included Aberdeenshire Council, BNI and Google – as well as two answers of ‘No-one’!


Q7. Where do you work on your business?

Home – 66%
Office premises – 11%
Shop unit – 5%
Other (please specify) – 18%

It was no surprise that 66% of respondents stated they worked on their business at home, as that tends to be the case with most startups. The 18% that responded with ‘Other’ were mainly based in client premises, with a couple being based out of a garage or workshop.


Q8. What challenged you most when setting up your business? (rate answers from 1 – 6)

Most concerned:
Company setup – Limited/sole trader etc – 1%
HMRC – VAT/Tax – 30%
Writing a business plan – 3%
Business Development (getting work) – 54%
Company name/identity – 9%
Business Plan/Marketing/PR – 3%

It’s very clear to see the two main areas of concern for most start ups are dealing with HMRC and Business Development. We had anticipated that there would be more concern over how to set up the company and the company name / identity, but that is clearly not the case, with 35% of people selecting company setup as the thing they were least concerned about!

Q9. Have you attended any Networking/Training events since starting your business?

Yes – 69%
No – 31%

It is great to see the majority of respondents have attended some form of training or networking event. Business Gateway was the organisation that got the most mentions for its training courses, with Aberdeen Business Network and BNI coming out top on the networking side. Industry specific training also proved popular where available.

Q10. Did you write a Business Plan when starting your business?

Yes – 58%
No – 42%

This question provided a fairly even split of responses but with a slight majority answering yes, they did write a business plan. Many people associate writing a business plan with applying for funding, however it is clearly a useful tool for every startup company to keep them on track.


Q11. Did you require funding to start your business?

Yes – 28%
No – 72%

The responses from this question show that a vast majority required no funding to start their business. Of those who did require funding it came primarily from personal savings or a personal loan, with some borrowing from family or releasing equity in a property to fund their startup. Only one respondent had received external funding in the form of a grant.