A new survey of Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs finds big differences in their reasons for starting a business. Indians are driven by the desire to be their own boss, Chinese by the lure of making money. Indians are spurred on by the example of their peers and family members, whereas Chinese are inspired by the lead given by government agencies and schools and universities.

Stark differences between Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs are revealed by a new survey of some 4,000 business owners and managers in the two countries commissioned by the London-based global think-tank the Legatum Institute.

Chinese self-starters cite knowledge gained at school as the most important factor behind their decision to set up a business. But the same people in India say they took the plunge after knowing another entrepreneur. The findings of the survey suggest that China shows signs of a successful public effort to bolster interest in entrepreneurship, while India’s entrepreneurial culture appears more organic and relational.

“Nearly half of Chinese respondents cite pro-business actions or environments in universities, government communications and media as key factors in their decision to start a business. In India, by contrast, only 17 per cent say the same. One fifth of Indian respondents cite family expectations.”

The role of the state and its agencies is reflected in the differing ways entrepreneurs go about raising the finance to start their firms. Indians are much more likely to raise the money from their families or their own savings. Chinese start-ups are most often financed by a bank loan.

The survey also reveals great optimism in the two emerging economic superpowers with large numbers in both believing that within 20 years they will be the world’s greatest economic powerhouse. The Chinese are the most optimistic with 62 per cent of their entrepreneurs believing that their country will eclipse the USA by 2030. In India, the figure is 48 per cent. Game on!