BNP’s L’Atelier releases its ‘portrait’ of the French entrepreneur

Dec 20, 2013
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EntrepreneurL’Atelier, BNP’s technology and innovation tracking unit, recently conducted a comprehensive study in conjunction with TNS/Sofres on the motivations, aspirations and lifestyle of tech entrepreneurs in France.  While the results will likely confirm the perceptions that many have of today’s tech entrepreneurs, there were some particularly interesting insights around their varying motivations in choosing to be a startuper, their work-life balance challenges, and their overall satisfaction with their chosen professional path.

To start of, overall the study sought to answer four big questions:

1) Who are the new French digital entrepreneurs?

2) What are their overall and day-to-day motivations?

3) Why did they decide to launch their startup?

4) What’s their perspective on the future prospects of their business?

Not just one motivation but many

The first main finding was that, unsurprisingly, it’s not one thing that drives startup founders but many.  More specifically, with the challenge (84%), creativity and innovation (74%), freedom and independence (70%), and working as a team (69%) coming out on top. While other factors such as appetite for risk (47%) and financial rewards (42%) still figured, they were of less importance. While many might assume that these two motivations would naturally be more frowned upon in France than elsewhere, there is pretty solid evidence that entrepreneurs around the world also value the challenge and the benefits of being your own boss more than financial rewards (for example, here). However, it would still be interesting to track how this will change overtime as France’s tech ecosystem evolves and produces more global players with big exits.

Principal personality types

L’Atelier’s findings not only identified three principal personality, but also determined how prevalent each are in France, namely:

Inventors (44% of French entrepreneurs):  This group view themselves as the new Galileos, the innovators that want to advance an idea or innovation that they’ve been passionate about for quite some time.  The inventors have an overwhelming conviction to not only make their idea a success, but also to convince others to passionately get behind their idea as well. Naturally, they also tend to describe themselves as passionate (99%), dynamic (97%), creative (90%), and with an appetite for risk (76%).

Ambitious conquerors (23%):  This group generally have only had their business idea a short time prior to launching their startup and are inspired by ‘success stories’ of startups ‘a l’americaine’ and tech celebrities such as Zuckerberg and Jobs. They also tend to be highly confident viewing themselves as visionaries, ambitious and dynamic. Interestingly this group also tends to be older than other startupers (average age of 40 and 25% 50+) and has more professional experience .

Builders (33%): Builders are pragmatic entrepreneurs who want to develop a business for the long-term and, as such, take a more realistic view of building their startup. It’s very important for them to build their company for and with a good team and, thus they focus on bringing aboard the right talent and identifying a common objective which they can all mobilize behind. One of their principal goals is to create an economically stable and viable company. In order to achieve that, they take first and foremost an analytical approach to their business, focusing on proper reflection, strategic development, preparation, and anticipation.

Being an entrepreneur is well-worth it even though there is some sacrifice

While tech entrepreneurs in France are largely male (89%), highly educated (93% higher degree holders), and come from engineering and business educational and work backgrounds,  they are also slightly older than many would assume (35 on average), tend to be married or with a permanent partner (78%) and have kids (61%).  As such, juggling the demands of their business and their personal life can be a challenge for them. Just over half state that it can be very stressful, leaving little free time for themselves (42%) and little time for their loved ones (41%).

Regardless of the sacrifice, the vast majority haven’t looked back after choosing to embark on their entrepreneurial path. An impressive 92% are satisfied with their choice to run a business (47% very satisfied) and the vast majority (78%) state that if they had to do it all again, they’d without question choose to be an entrepreneur.

You can find the full study which has a lot more interesting information and insights here.