‘Low ambition’ Achilles heel of Swedish start-ups

'Low ambition' Achilles heel of Swedish start-ups
Despite increasing numbers of start-ups, Swedes are still less talented at taking their business to the next level, according to a new global study published on Monday.

“What we see lacking is the ambition to grow,” Pontus Braunerhjelm, professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, told The Local.

The Swedish team of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), led by Braunerhjelm along with academics from Uppsala University and the Stockholm School of Economics, studied the life-cycle of Swedish start-up businesses for their first 42 months.

Although Swedish entrepreneurship has been on the up in the past decade, Sweden still scored low in entrepreneurial ambitions compared to similar countries.

Comparing their results to findings word-wide, the researcher found that Swedish companies ranked low in their expectations to grow further, to add more staff, and to invest in innovation. Comparably few companies were thinking of taking their company out on the global stage.

So are Swedes unable to take their companies to the next level?

“Self-confidence in running a business is low in Sweden. This is part culture – the safety net created by a more developed employee [culture],” explained Braunerhjelm.

“And also our tax systems are not conducive to start up a business.”

He added that many Swedes see the high risk of failure in starting a new company as an obstacle, whereas in the United States, for example, people are far more inclined to have not only the capacity to run a business, but to feel confident they can survive.

While the report demonstrated that Swedes have the capacity to start a business, many lack the confidence to identify and to exploit that opportunity further, said Braunerhjelm.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, GEM, is the world’s largest entrepreneurship study, based on nearly 200,000 questionnaires and interviews on entrepreneurial attitudes, activities and aspirations. The survey covers 74 percent of the world’s population and 87 percent of global GDP.

Victoria Hussey

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