Reflections on the rise in young entrepreneurs
ClearView Research, in collaboration with a group of young people from across England, recently conducted research on employment prospects for young people in England aged 16-25 years in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Young people who decide to pursue entrepreneurship face many key barriers to business creation and self-employment. Research has found that despite a high interest in self-employment only 6.5% of working youth in the European Union (EU) were self-employed in 2018. Young people (18-30 years old) in the EU were less likely than adults to feel they had the knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship, and 44.5% of young people in the EU viewed fear of failure as a barrier to entrepreneurship.
To gain a better understanding of this, we funded a new report to explore the experiences of young entrepreneurs in England, especially those facing multiple challenges, such as discrimination, socio-economic challenges, having a criminal record and having caring responsibilities. This research uncovered the different motivations, needs, and lived experiences of young people in England who face multiple barriers and are pursuing entrepreneurship.
A key highlight of the project was the involvement of eight young entrepreneurs who infused the project with their lived experiences. They worked with ClearView and our two Future Voice members, Annie and Naomi, to co-create the research questions, and conducted interviews and focus groups with other young entrepreneurs.
Naomi, one of our Future Voice Ambassadors reflects on the report.
Did anything in the report surprise or inspire you?
Yes, I was mainly surprised at the age of the entrepreneurs included in the report and from the survey results. One of the common ages for starting as an entrepreneur was 16-17 years old. I found this fascinating as I’ve always associated entrepreneurship as something you pursue after many years of experience, rather than an option for young people. It was encouraging to read the number of young people (under 20) who have been willing to start and commit to entrepreneurship. I found it inspirational that they balanced this alongside personal, educational and other commitments. This section of the report really challenged my personal perceptions of when you can start your entrepreneurship journey.
I was inspired by young people’s motivations to become entrepreneurs. The ‘WHY’ behind the different entrepreneurial routes varied from identifying a problem within society, and creating a business as a solution, to turning a hobby or passion into a source of income. It really shows that young people are determined to shape their own future and are empowered to find solutions themselves.
Do you agree with the recommendations?
Yes, the recommendations were specific and aligned with the values of Youth Futures Foundations. One recommendation suggests further research to unpack and continue conversations around the tangibility of pursuing entrepreneurship for young people, particularly for young people who may have faced challenges or disadvantages.
There are also practical suggestions around resources and support for young people that may need help to get started.
Did it change your mind about entrepreneurship?
Yes and No.
Yes, as it has been particularly inspiring to read the motivations behind the entrepreneurial journey of some of the participants. Despite needing more support and resources when they started, and championing the need for more structured help for others, all of the participants were resilient and started their businesses. It definitely encourages me to think that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to begin when someone invests or believes in your idea, or at a certain life stage, but when you are ready to commit to the journey.
No, the report has not changed my mind about entrepreneurship as I have always believed that solutions, whether this is social change or spotting a gap in the market, can always be solved through the vehicle of business. Particularly by those who have lived experience of the issue.