New Research on Asian Entrepreneurs Challenges Western Ideas of Entrepreneurialism

New Research on Asian Entrepreneurs Challenges Western Ideas of Entrepreneurialism

Entrepreneurs are a diverse group, but sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the world – and entrepreneurialism – works in set ways. Our worldviews are often the result of culture and what we experience as ‘normal,’ so it’s always interesting to discover that different countries and cultures experience different realities that shape their lives in meaningful ways.

HSBC Private Bank has been plugging away at new research that studies entrepreneurs around the world. Initial results show that entrepreneurialism looks different depending on where you live. The global research is also bringing to light several ways in which Asian entrepreneurs are redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur. Here are some key findings:

Gender Differences

Is entrepreneurialism something that men are drawn to more than women? You may think so if you live in the West, where only 31 percent of entrepreneurs are female and some countries have even lower numbers (Germany at 21 percent and the UK at 27 percent). However, in Asian countries, two in five (40 percent) of entrepreneurs are female, and in Hong Kong the ratio is almost even (48 percent female to 52 percent male).

Age Differences

Is entrepreneurialism something you pursue later in life, after you have given the corporate world a go and decided to try something different? You might think so if you live in the West, where the average age for entrepreneurs to set up a first business is 34. However, Asian entrepreneurs set up their first business at an average age of 29, and 41 percent of those surveyed in the HSBC survey are still under 35.

Family Business Background

Is entrepreneurialism something a person does to blaze a trail that is different from their family? In the West you may think so, considering that 57 percent of entrepreneurs did not come from a business-owning family. However, 54 percent of Asian entrepreneurs come from business-owning families, and they utilize both family wealth and family business knowledge to start their first business.

Serial Entrepreneurs

Should entrepreneurs focus on a single business, or should their focus be serial entrepreneurialism where they grow and sell multiple businesses to gain wealth? If you live in the West you may be more likely to believe in serial entrepreneurialism, where 55 percent of those surveyed intend to sell their business. However, Asian entrepreneurs are more likely to focus on the long-term of growing an empire, as demonstrated by only 24 percent who intend to exit their business.

The survey also found a number of other differences between Western and Asian entrepreneurs. You can learn more in this press release or by listening to this podcast.

The HSBC Private Bank research gives us global insight into how entrepreneurialism works around the world. The research on Asian entrepreneurs should also challenge our beliefs on what is ‘normal’ or ‘right’ in entrepreneurialism so we can instead believe in a world where anything is possible and where there are multiple paths to success.