What's stopping young people from starting a business?

26 November 2018


What's stopping young people from starting a business?New research has found that a fear of failure may be deterring young people - and particularly young engineers - from starting their own enterprises.

A study by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub has found that a fear of failure and a lack of business skills are the main stumbling blocks for young would-be entrepreneurs.

Four in ten young people (42% of 18-24 year-olds) say that a fear of business failure is preventing them from starting up, compared to 27% of 45-54 year-olds. The findings echo separate research from the Enterprise Hub that found that young engineers (21-31 year-olds) were especially fearful of failure; over half (56%) cited this as one of their main reasons for not starting a business.

The research also asked young engineers what support would help them to turn their ideas into innovations; 41% wanted to learn key business skills and 31% highlighted a need for advice on protecting their ideas.

However, the findings also suggest that young people may expect success to come more easily than their older peers, with just 27% of young people saying that persistence is important in turning an idea into a business success, compared to 43% of those aged 45-54 and 49% of over-55s.

And, despite the familiarity of Thomas Edison's assertion that success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, young engineers polled said business success is 68% inspiration and 32% perspiration.

Ian Shott, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee, said: "The UK is a world leader in innovation, and if we are to maintain this in years to come we must inspire young people to gain the confidence to have a go. Entrepreneurial business leadership and management is not a prescriptive standalone set of skills but rather something where many entrepreneurs will benefit from excellent mentorship providing thoughtful and appropriate support along their journey."