Arbuthnot Latham is a proud champion of entrepreneurship and the many benefits it brings to our economy and communities. Our teams work in partnership with entrepreneurs and are embedded in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the UK.

Welcome to our Unfolding the Key to Success report, which focuses on UK entrepreneurs – the people who make business happen, create jobs and generate wealth.

With Unfolding the Key to Success, we aim to shine a light on the myriad factors influencing entrepreneurs at different stages of their journeys. Whether a natural progression from an entrepreneurial family background, or a desire to move out of the corporate world, everyone has their own story to tell.

From inception to exit, we explore the experiences that define business founders and uncover the motivations that shape their ambitions at various stages of their entrepreneurial journeys.

We hope you enjoy the report.

Paul Beach

Director, Head of Executives and Entrepreneurs
Arbuthnot Latham Private Banking

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Our key findings

  1. Entrepreneurs consult a diverse ecosystem of trusted advisors

A business exit has important implications for entrepreneurs’ personal wealth and lives beyond – and those who have exited are approximately 7 times more likely to involve a private banker in the process than those who are yet to exit (29% vs 4% respectively). Despite strong intentions, only 19% say they had a plan in place to protect their wealth post-exit.

  1. There is a disconnect between expectation and reality when it comes to business exits

Entrepreneurs anticipate that when the time comes, the decision to leave their business will be personal – perhaps because they have reached a certain age or have stopped enjoying their role. In reality, they often end up exiting more pragmatically, because they have found a suitable successor to take their place.

  1. There is no such thing as a perfect exit process

Only 22% of entrepreneurs reported that they were perfectly happy with the way the business exit process went. 3 in 5 (59%) would have sold later or earlier; with others identifying factors such as finding the right buyer and gaining a better understanding of the risks involved as key considerations.

  1. Prior to an exit, founders usually believe they are stepping away for good

Yet 83% remain connected to their firms in some way – most commonly, as advisors or Non-Executive Directors. Almost two-thirds perceive this continued involvement to be stabilising for their former firms in the long-run.

  1. Most business founders do not retire in the traditional sense

92% continue their involvement with the business world in some capacity. The quest for time remains elusive, as many find themselves channelling their expertise and capital into mentoring, angel investments and philanthropy.

How do you compare?

Do you consider your business part of your overall investment strategy?

My business is part of my overall investment strategy

You are in good company. 60% of HNW UK entrepreneurs agree, climbing to 72% when those entrepreneurs come from a family business background.


I take my business into account when making investment decisions, but it is not part of my overall strategy

You carve your own path. Only 17% of entrepreneurs chose this option, reducing to 12% of those who come from a family business background.


I view my business as completely distinct from my investment portfolio

Are you a first time entrepreneur? 35% of first time entrepreneurs view their business as distinct compared to only 16% of entrepreneurs from a family background.

Thinking about your personal motivations, which of these best describes why you became an entrepreneur/business owner?

To increase my personal wealth

This was the most popular option among the entrepreneurs we surveyed too, with 23% stating this was a key motivation.


To change my lifestyle and be my own boss

For many, the desire to move away from the corporate world was as strong pull with almost 1 in 5 choosing this option (17%).


To do the best for myself, my family or my friends

Providing for others was a key motivator with 15% of entrepreneurs putting the needs of their loved ones first.


To follow a passion and better myself

Entrepreneurs are certainly not short of passion, with 10% of entrepreneurs motivated by following their dreams.

What activities do you/did you anticipate undertaking to prepare the business for an eventual transfer of ownership?

Put a plan in place to protect my wealth

Interestingly, almost twice as many entrepreneurs intended to put a plan in place (37%) compared to those that did in reality (19%).


Identify the right time to sell my business

Timing is seen as key with half of entrepreneurs who exited identifying this as a key element (49%). However, 27% and 23% respectively said they would have waited longer or sold earlier.


Form a precise understanding of the value of my company

Valuation is understandably a key factor; 35% of those yet to exit identified this as important, rising to 52% of those who have exited.


Put a plan in place to safeguard my family’s future

We found entrepreneurs had solid intentions to put wealth protection plans in place (35% of those yet to exit), however only 13% managed to do this.


Restructure my business to improve its competitiveness

Restructuring is seen as a key activity by more than a quarter of entrepreneurs who have gone through this process (27%).


Refinance my business to improve its financial performance

Interestingly, double the number of those who have exited their business refinanced in preparation of sale (31%), compared to those yet to sell (15%).

Which of the following business roles do you anticipate being involved in after you have exited your business?

No further involvement in any business role

2 in 5 (43%) entrepreneurs intended to cut the cord, yet it’s easier said than done with 92% of entrepreneurs remaining connected post-exit.


Business mentor to other entrepreneurs/business leaders

About a quarter (28%) of entrepreneurs anticipated mentoring, yet 2 in 5 (44%) provide this service post exit.


Active role in the management of another business (e.g. Financial Director, Managing Director, CEO)

Only 1 in 5 (20%) entrepreneurs anticipated taking on a C-Suite role in another company, yet almost half (47%) made this move post-exit.


Angel investor into other businesses

Despite relatively low expectations of investing into another business (18%), 30% of entrepreneurs became angel investors.  Read the report to find out how successful they were.

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