Passionate about ideas, enthusiastic and very ambitious, many more young people than ever before want to go it alone and set up their own companies, according to new research. They often face formidable difficulties, but more help is now at hand. Initiatives such as Enterprise Week with its emphasis on helping the under thirties launch themselves into business, may encourage and inspire people and contribute to a boom in business start-ups.
Almost half young people have ambitions to start a new business, and the vast majority claim they are happy to work long hours to succeed, according to recent research by City and Guilds. Inspired by entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates, 49% of young people aged 14-19 said they wished to one day set up their own company and 94% were happy to work long hours, believing that financial reward was far less critical than job fulfilment. Business is firmly fashionable again.
Britain’s biggest business organisation recently issued a timely reminder that starting a business is a credible alternative to expensive university degrees and nine to five graduate jobs.
“After 3 years of exams, A Level students can feel like they are on a production line with university and employment the only logical next steps in the process”, says Federation of Small Business education chairman Norman Mackel. “But the world of work has changed significantly over the last few years …more and more people are seeing self employment as the more attractive option.”
The FSB has 190,000 members and exists to promote the interests of the self employed and those in business.
“Being your own boss is a great aspiration for young people and there is plenty of assistance available to help turn a good idea into reality. Entrepreneurship is about seizing new opportunities and taking risks which is why it is so vital to the economy and what makes it such an exciting career choice”, says Mr Mackel.
Enterprise Week, running from 14-20th November aims to support, encourage and inspire through a week of activities for those in their teens and twenties.
But although young entrepreneurs may have the ideas, the energy, and passion for start-ups, they often encounter formidable obstacles simply because of their age. Securing funding for business is often the first huge hurdle. Without a track record and with few assets available for security it can be difficult. Even with finance (perhaps a loan from a family member, or an overdraft), a lack of business experience can prejudice people against younger business people. This is so short-sighted, but help, support, advice and even finance are available.
The Prince’s Trust, for example, gives low interest loans of up to £4,000 for a sole trader, or up to £5,000 for a partnership. Also available, in special circumstances, are grants of up to £1,500 and a test marketing sum of £250. Ongoing business support and specialist advice and access to a wide range of products and services, either free or discounted are available. To be eligible the applicant needs to be between 18-30 unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week and have not been able to get all the funding from other sources.
The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, whose key purpose is to promote economic regeneration by setting up small firms, can also assist. Shell LiveWire, an online mentor service can give exert advice, although registration is required. But most crucially a good business idea is vital as is a readiness to work hard to make it happen. Enthusiasm, persistence, leadership, commitment, creativity, ambition and that all important self-belief are essential. If the youngsters in City and Guilds research are as ambitious and hardworking as they suggest, the future of entrepreneurship will be secure and there will be a new list of famous men and women making fortunes and creating jobs.