Sole trader survey results: Discover the DNA of the UK's one-man bands

Smarta's soletrader survey, in association with Viking, found that only 10% of sole traders are primarily motivated by financial gain and that, for half of the respondents, a desire to be their own boss was the driving force.

It's a good thing too, given that economic pressures seem to be putting the brake on business growth. Just a third of respondents said they were very confident of growing their businesses next year, whereas 37% were unsure and 26% said it was unlikely.

Sales, or a lack of sales, was the top factor limiting growth, while related factors such as 'not enough contacts' and cashflow troubles also scored highly. Meanwhile, another hindrance could be a lack of government support: a whopping 95% said ministers should do more to help sole traders.

But while many sole traders feel ignored by MPs, a worryingly large number are turning a blind eye to their own futures. The stats show that 72% of sole traders don't have a pension, a fact that could be storing up trouble for them in years to come.

The survey also hints that people who go it alone work hard to make their business a success. Some 43% work more than 45 hours a week and just under a third get up at six o'clock in the morning or earlier in order to steal a chase on the working day.

Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund said: "Our research shows that British sole traders are a diverse bunch with a few unifying characteristics. They are hardworking people motivated by freedom and not, on the whole, by personal financial gain.

"What is striking is, for the first time, we can see that this crucial segment of the British economy feels let down by government policy and that many expect more backing from ministers in their efforts to reinvigorate our stuttering economy.

"It's a real concern that so many sole traders are not securing their financial futures. We acknowledge that it's hard for many to plan when they live hand-to-mouth, but putting aside a war chest for your autumn years is an absolute must."

In other findings from the survey, six in 10 think the European sovereign debt crisis is impacting on their business and more than half have felt lonely or isolated at one time or another.

Click here to see our infographic on sole traders

Click here to download our free eBook displaying all our findings from Soletrading Month 2011

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