Entrepreneurship - the youth perspective.
5 mins read
What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? What is it that Jack Parsons, CEO of the Youth Group, calls the ‘duvet flip’?
For many people, and especially young people, it’s the dream of running their own business – of taking a nugget of an idea, something they are passionate about, and making it real.
‘In Generation Z, 4 out of 5 people want to set up a business one day’ (SME Loans).
In a post-Brexit, post-Covid world, young people are faced with the twin realities of a Britain arguably more incentivised to innovate, and a Britain with fewer traditional job opportunities on offer. Out of those realities comes the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurship. Maybe a new ‘army of entrepreneurs’ emerging out of the current crisis?
At Capita we have brought together a diverse mix of 10 young people to provide us with a youth perspective on some very real business issues.
Our Youth Council has spent the first part of this year considering this opportunity – what does it mean for young people who want to start their own businesses? What challenges would they face? What support might they need? How can Government, industry and individuals support young entrepreneurs so that as many as possible are helped to build successful, thriving businesses?
I was lucky enough to hear their ideas and their opinions, expressed passionately and eloquently, at a virtual Youth Council committee event recently. This is their view of the key challenges faced by young entrepreneurs:
- One size doesn’t fit all: young people - and the ideas they have – and the situations they are in – are all individuals, in all their unique glory. Any support needs to be deeply personalised and tailored. Some may have learning difficulties, some may have no parental support, some may have caring responsibilities – any and all support given needs to fit around these personal circumstances. “The business idea might be a side hustle” said Priyanka, “any support needs to be available outside of traditional working hours”. “Maybe not 24/7” said Ciara, “but certainly an element of longer hours, and how about ‘always on’ peer support, for when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how you are going to make money!”.
- Financial wellbeing: how do you get the financing you need to start your own business? Young people really don’t know what they are entitled to in terms of benefits, how to apply for small loans, what financial support is available to people of any age wanting to start their own business. Not many will have family that can support them, house them and feed them while waiting for their big idea to take off. Any support needs to be financial as well as advisory – either direct or by signposting to the right agencies.
- Skills and qualifications: many entrepreneurs (some very successful ones) famously dropped out of mainstream education, rebelled against the system. But they almost always went on to gain qualifications later on. Access to training and qualifications is critical to equip young people with the skills needed to start up, scale up and thrive. These range from soft skills – empathy, confidence, leadership – to technical skills around budgeting, marketing and technology. And different learning styles need to be taken into account in terms of the delivery of this content. Not just online courses, but podcasts, blogs, vlogs, virtual classrooms – all have a part to play.
- Mental health support: entrepreneurship and innovation can be a lonely, isolated existence. Any support given needs to be aware of that. Communities of support should be created, not just to help in the here and now, but to build networks of like-minded groups of people for the future. “Your network is your net worth,” said Leon. This really struck a chord with me. Networking is not only good for your mental wellbeing – we all need connection – but it’s essential for growing your business. A great network will consist of mentors, advisors, competitors, friends, advocates and clients. Keep working it, keep close to it and take whatever support is offered.
The committee also spoke at length about marketing, budgeting, personal development and the need to keep growing as a business owner – it’s evident that this group saw entrepreneurship not as a destination, but as a journey. One thing was crystal clear – the future of British business is in pretty safe hands with this lot. Their passion and enthusiasm was contagious, and the next morning I ‘flipped my duvet’ pretty smartish - energised and inspired to help build that future with them.
Business Development Director
Tricia is Business Development Director for Health and Welfare within Capita Government Services. With over 25 years experience in designing and delivering major outsourced services, Tricia is passionate about delivering services that help to transform life chances.