Half of young Brits are existing or wannabe business owners but can't name an entrepreneur who inspires them

Half of young Brits are existing or wannabe business owners but can't name an entrepreneur who inspires them
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Mon 12th Aug 2019

Fifty-one per cent of young people aged 14 to 25 have thought about starting or have already set up their own business but a fear of failure and a lack of role models are issues holding them back, according to a new report.

The study of of 1,549 young people by The Entrepreneurs Network and Octopus Group found that 68% said worries about things going wrong was a barrier to them making the leap into entrepreneurship, with females (71%) more scared of failure than males (63%).

Only two in five (38%) 14 to 25-year-olds said their education has provided the skills they need to start a business and while the figure rose to 51% and 55% respectively for those currently at university or studying business, only 39% of graduates said the same suggesting that knowledge isn't transferring from the classroom to the real world.

Role models for young entrepreneurs

A lack of role models could also be problem, the study said, particularly for girls and young women.

More than half (57%) of young people could not name an entrepreneur who inspires them and of those who could, 8% said Lord Sugar, 6% picked Richard Branson, and 3% highlighted Elon Musk. Kylie Jenner was the most commonly named female entrepreneur by just 1% of respondents.

Of the entrepreneurs who were named, 85% were male and half of young men could name an inspirational business owner compared to a third of women.

The report highlighted the importance of role models, particularly those close to home. 68% of young people with a family member or friend who is a business owner said it has made them more likely to consider entrepreneurship in the future.

A desire to "be my own boss" (86%) and the "freedom to do what I want" (84%) were the top motivations for 14 to 25-year-olds considering starting a business and the report said educators should use these drivers rather than a desire to get rich quick to inform the way they talk about entrepreneurship and work with organisations that bring successful entrepreneurs into schools to inspire children.

The study also called on the government to support schemes which provide young people with the opportunity to experiment with starting a company to build confidence, expand knowledge and reduce the fear of failure.

One such initiative is Enterprise Nation's Next Generation campaign, which, in partnership with Enterprise Trust and TSB, has provided free training to hundreds of budding young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 30 as well as funding through an awards scheme. The Next Generation programme is set to expand this autumn.

Sam Dumitriu, research director at The Entrepreneurs Network, said:

"Over half of under 25s see entrepreneurship as a real option, but entrepreneurial intentions often don't lead to the creation of real businesses. Understanding the motivations, intentions, and barriers faced by young people is vital to widening the pool of entrepreneurial talent."

Simon Rogerson, CEO and co-founder of Octopus Group, added:

"Starting a business is as much about your mindset as it is about the idea - and it can seem like a big leap of faith.

"That's why it's so important for young people to have access to mentors and relatable role models. They can make the impossible seem possible and help overcome that fear of failure."

Read more of the latest business news on Enterprise Nation

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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