What Makes People Want to Start Their Own Company?

Many people dream of being their own boss, but few venture into self-employment. Why is this? The international METRO Own Business Study gets to the bottom of this and other questions. Some of the findings surprised even the makers of the study, Ivonne Bollow and Anila Brahmakulam.

The first international Own Business Study surveyed participants from 10 countries. How did you decide which countries to include?

Anila Brahmakulam: With this study, we wanted to gain global insights, but also bring to light particular features of various regions and countries. We wanted to learn what people think about independent business owners, and what distinguishes entrepreneurial personalities.

Ivonne Bollow: We were also interested in differences between the countries. We focused on Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. Within these regions, we selected a number of countries with strategic importance to us, like Germany, France, Russia and China. But we also included smaller countries that represent new trends, like the Netherlands.


What findings impressed you the most, or even surprised you?

Ivonne Bollow: When it comes to people’s interest in starting a business, there are clear differences between countries. While the average across the countries is 48%, the number in some countries is significantly higher – for example, 74% in Turkey and 58% in China. We still have to analyse the reasons for this. Maybe people in these countries are more willing to take risks, but perhaps self-employment is simply held in higher esteem there.

Anila Brahmakulam: Another interesting finding was that monetary aspects are not the chief motivation for those who start their own business. Many people are looking more immediately for individual fulfilment and self-determination.


Many of those surveyed would like to start their own business, but only 13% believe they can achieve this goal. Why this discrepancy?

Ivonne Bollow: There are various reasons for this so-called entrepreneurial gap. Many potential entrepreneurs ultimately hold back because they need security and lack the financial means. What the study found here was striking: among those questioned, interest in founding a business was highest when household income was above € 100,000. That shows that taking the plunge into self-employment has a lot to do with liquidity. Socio-psychological factors also play a major role: operating one’s own business requires all-out commitment and the ability to stick it out through hard times and economic and political changes.


What can METRO do to improve basic conditions for independent businesses?

Ivonne Bollow: As a large company, we can serve as a kind of ambassador for our customers. We carry on an exchange with numerous political stakeholders. We can continue to make use of this network and the trust we have built up – by being involved as a company that understands our customers’ challenges and explaining why so many have to shut their doors after just 1 to 3 years. This is also relevant for politicians, who are in a position to create the needed framework conditions.

Anila Brahmakulam: But here at METRO, we can also do a lot ourselves to support the success of independent business owners. For example, by offering products and services tailored to our customers’ needs. And by advancing the digitisation of the food service industry.

On the study

In the international METRO Own Business Study, 10,000 people were surveyed in 10 countries – Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey, Russia and China. Around 9,000 of the participants were non-entrepreneurs and over 800 were independent business owners.

On the people behind the study

_DSC6442Ivonne Bollow is Director International Affairs in Corporate Communications and Public Policy at METRO.



_DSC6388Anila Brahmakulam is Head of Brand Development in Global Marketing / Global Branding and Activation.




Both have dealt for years with the subjects of self-employment. They jointly supervised the current METRO study.

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