Nearly 900,000 people in the West Midlands dream of quitting their job to start their own business, a new survey has shown.
But they are being held back because they are worried about the financial risk of setting out on their own.
The research into the region's 2.9 million-strong workforce, carried out for Business Link West Midlands, found more than 30 per cent are thinking about striking out on their own, with one in five planning to make the leap into self employment by the end of the year.
Most would like to move into self-employment because it would give them more freedom or make them more money, the survey found.
Jill Parker, enterprise director of Business Link in the West Midlands, said: "It's encouraging to see how many people dream of setting up their own company to enjoy the flexibility and benefits of working for themselves.
"It is this appetite that we need to harness and develop and we now have a support package in place that gives entrepreneurs access to the highest quality and flexible expertise ever assembled.
"Interestingly, the research also showed that nearly as many women as men are keen to become their own boss."
But she added many people who wanted to start their own company were being kept out of business because they were scared about the risk, or did not know how to go about it.
And worryingly, the majority said they would be willing to put the cost of starting a business on a credit card, despite the risk of financial ruin.
Ms Parker said: "Many people who wish to start their own company can be put off due to fear of failure, or uncertainty on how to start.
"However, there is a wealth of free information, advice and support available locally and online, to help budding entrepreneurs every step of the way."
One analyst said the comforting safety net provided by the corporate culture meant many potential entrepreneurs in the region saw going into business on their own as too much of a risk.
Ian Holder, a partner at Mazars in Birmingham, said: "With a buoyant UK economy providing attractive career options, large companies often fast track the talented individuals who might other-wise make ideal high- ambition entrepreneurs.
"Combined with the high opportunity cost of starting a firm in the UK, the risk-reward balance simply doesn't add up for many ambitious individuals."
Entrepreneurs David Malone and Lucy Bilham, of the Herefordshire-based Traditional Joinery woodworking business, said it would have been impossible to start out in the world on enterprise without serious backing from an outside organisation.
They had support from Business Link West Midlands when they moved into running Traditional Joinery.
Ms Bilham, who deals with the bookkeeping and administration, said: "Though David has a lot of expertise in his craft, we didn't have much experience of actually setting up and running a business. Business Link has been a great help as they have provided me with a free course delivered by one of their enterprise providers, Riverside Training in Hereford.
"This covered everything from legal and finance information to marketing and business planning. This course, combined with my advanced GNVQ in Hospitality and an NVQ Level 3 in Business Administration, has given me the skills and confidence I need to get us started."