Banks, Investors Must Completely Re-Think What Young Entrepreneurs Need - Study

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 15 March 2013

Banks, Investors Must Completely Re-Think What Young Entrepreneurs Need - Study

The notion that entrepreneurs are “isolated, highly-driven, risk-taking mavericks” is out of date and deters some young people from starting their own firms, according to a Royal Bank of Scotland-supported report by the  Royal Society of Arts on business attitudes that may have important implications for wealth managers.

Pointing to figures released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Disrupt Inc found that whilst 9.5 per cent of 18-24 year olds say they intend to start a business, only 3.6 per cent are actually doing so.

The language used by the enterprise support industry alienates some young people and puts them off starting a business, the report said. It urges that support organisations should launch a joint marketing campaign in order to challenge some of the myths surrounding enterprise.

“As the economic environment changes around us, so too does the way in which young entrepreneurs seek to engage with enterprise – in the hands of entrepreneurs, it is hardly surprising that the nature of entrepreneurship itself will evolve and re-invent itself,” Andrew Haigh, executive director, client propositions at Coutts, said.

The report argues that commentary about the availability of start-up finance, for example, overlooks the large numbers of young people who are reticent about taking out a loan, preferring to “bootstrap” their way through the initial stages of their business. Likewise, the effort spent in establishing formal mentorship schemes belie the preference that many young people have for more informal support from personal contacts, it said.

Instead of large-scale funding programmes, what is needed is small-scale support that is built on experimentation at a grassroots level and which goes with the grain of young entrepreneurs’ real experiences, however unconventional they may sound, it said.

“Despite the flurry of media commentary surrounding young enterprise, very little is actually known about how young people become entrepreneurs. We discovered that many do not conform to traditional stereotypes of entrepreneurs,” RSA senior researcher Benedict Dellot said.

“Instead they often stumble into business ‘accidentally’, start up on a shoestring budget and with an imperfect product, and rely on a whole host of other people – mostly personal acquaintances – to get them to where they want to be. If we’re to win the ‘global race’ as outlined by the prime minister [David Cameron], there’s an urgent need for support organisations to quickly get up to speed on this rapidly-changing businesses environment,” Dellot added.

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