As A-level results are announced this week, Britain’s entrepreneurs are calling on school and college leavers to consider enterprise as a career option rather than automatically heading for university.
According to research conducted by Shell LiveWIRE – one of the UK’s longest running youth enterprise schemes – 96% of entrepreneurs believe that today’s school leavers could still make a success of setting up a business in the current climate, but that many are held back from doing so due to a lack of understanding of what makes a successful entrepreneur.
Over 40% of today’s entrepreneurs believe that school leavers see setting up a business straight from school as a ‘second class option’ to going to university. However, of those entrepreneurs who themselves opted to go straight into business, 85% said that not having a degree had in no way held them back. Furthermore, over half (55%) said they had made a deliberate choice to go into business after school because they didn’t want to do any further study, rather than viewing it as a last resort or fallback option.
According to the Shell LiveWIRE community, confidence – rather than qualifications – is the top quality required to be a successful entrepreneur. Over three quarters (78%) rated confidence as the most important quality, followed by passion (72%) and an appetite for success (66%).
Shell LiveWIRE member and Grand Ideas winner, Fred Ryall, 18, from Birkenhead, chose to start up his own business making replica historical armour after finishing school. He said:
“I remember getting my A-level results and wondering what do I do next. It was a scary time to take the plunge, but I’m so glad I decided to start my own business. I think there is a lack of understanding about being an entrepreneur that is putting a lot of people off from considering setting up a business, especially in the current economic climate. But as a start-up I’ve become used to living modestly and surviving on a low wage, so in a sense I could be taking this step in any economic environment. As a young entrepreneur, the key thing is to have belief in your business idea, remain confident and keep talking to other entrepreneurs – their support and advice is absolutely invaluable as they’ve already trodden this path before and know the pitfalls.”
The survey also revealed the top benefits of choosing enterprise as a career path, as voted for by the entrepreneurial community:
– Being your own boss (54%)
– Knowing that success or failure is in your hands (53%)
– Choosing your own working hours (41%)
– Turning a hobby into a job (35%)
– Having the opportunity to meet likeminded people (33%)
Sally Gold, Head of UK Social Investment for Shell said: “Young people have a tough decision about their future once they leave school. Anyone thinking about starting up their own business should consult people who have taken the plunge themselves. There is a lot of young entrepreneurial talent in the UK that can be tapped into as a source of advice, and the Shell Livewire online community is a good starting point.”
Shell LiveWIRE, which has been giving free support to would-be entrepreneurs since 1982, re-launched earlier this year with a new and improved networking website and regular cash awards for aspiring 16-30 year olds with great business ideas. Every month, up to five aspiring entrepreneurs are awarded a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award of £1000 to fund an innovative project to help get their business idea off the ground. In addition, the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which recognises and celebrates the achievements of the UK’s finest young entrepreneurs, will be awarded in October. Applicants have until 11th September to submit their entries for the award, which will see one winner walk away with £10,000.
To find out more, join the Shell LiveWIRE community or enter the Shell LiveWIRE Awards, visit www.shell-livewire.org.