5 good reasons why we should encourage young entrepreneurs

Daniel Britton

Daniel Britton is an entrepreneur and financial education specialist. He is the author of The Financial Fairy Tales series of inspirational money books and founder of the Personal Finance Academy which provides interactive, personalised financial education to young people. Daniel was awarded National Enterprise Tutor of the Year 2013 by HRH Duke of York and Peter Jones CBE.

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College, university, apprenticeships, full-time work… with many school-leavers unsure about what to do after their secondary school education, it’s important for teachers to consider each option carefully so that they might offer advice when needed. As we’ve seen in recent months, a lot of business professionals are encouraging entrepreneurialism in young people. Established entrepreneur and financial education specialist Daniel Britton gives his five main reasons why this way of thinking should be encouraged.

Teachers are in a great position to spot and nurture entrepreneurial talent. The life stories of successful entrepreneurs often reveal that they struggled with traditional education, but occasionally there was someone who believed in them, before they believed in themselves. Despite the uncertain economic climate, reluctant bank lending and unpredictable business outlook – now is exactly the right time for budding young entrepreneurs to start a business.

Here are 5 reasons why every student should consider starting their own business.

Part time income vs. Part time job

In a room of sixth form students, I asked how many had or were looking for a part time job. Unsurprisingly around 90% raised their hands. For those lucky enough to find one, chances are they will be paid at the national minimum wage - £3.79 per hour (under 18s) or £5.13 (under 21s). At those levels, working 16 hours per week is barely going to cover essential expenses, let alone help them save for anything more substantial. Furthermore, the hours necessary are likely to be evenings and weekends which can detract from their studies and important social or leisure time.

What would happen, if instead, young people put that time into their own business? Would they be capable of generating more than the £60 per week they are earning now, with the added benefit of choosing their own hours and planning their own schedules.

“Follow your passion”

Running your own business can give the opportunity to follow your passions. Many young people have hobbies or pastimes in which they can lose themselves for hours. Earning money from these would rarely feel like work.

But can people really make money from video games or collecting football stickers? They do not have to a professional footballer or future rock star, but could write a blog about it, produce an eBook on their training schedule or create a website or fan page. Thousands of people make a living selling items on Ebay or Amazon, and information on how to do it is readily available.

Amount of information available

With the popularity of TV shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, there has been a real increase in access to advice, tips and inspiration to start your own business.

There are more websites, books, TV programmes, podcasts and video clips about starting a business available today than at any other time in history. Chances are the local library has more business advice than you could ever read – for free! Not every student likes to read, but podcasts, TED talks or ebooks are a great way for them to get inspired.

Low cost – low risk

Not too long ago starting your own business involved high costs for premises, vehicles, machinery or other equipment. Banks wanted security on loans, which meant that aspiring young entrepreneurs needed money behind them, perhaps from savings or family.

For many, this risk was too great and dreams were crushed before they could really begin. The internet has been a real game-changer. Businesses can be started online for a few Pounds, ran from bedrooms, kitchen tables or even classrooms. The internet allows businesses to trade worldwide 24 hours per day, while free platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and WordPress allows businesses to get your products and services out to a potential audience of millions. The good news is that this generation of young people are the most tech savvy in history. They can set up blogs, post videos and share via Facebook before they reach secondary school. It’s a short jump to encouraging them to start thinking about these internet activities as tools for business.

Personal development

The payback for young people running their own business can be financially rewarding, but can also be seen in their personal development. Skills of communication and financial awareness plus qualities of perseverance and self-confidence are by-products of building a business or running an enterprise project.

These life skills will be of benefit whether they choose to become self-employed, have a job or go into higher education. It was once felt that the entrepreneur was a bit of a maverick who didn’t fit well into corporate life. More recently however, big business has realised that a more flexible, innovative, can do approach is exactly what they need from their young people in the information age.

Little Acorns – Mighty Oaks

Everything big was once small. By starting their own business they just may be launching something which one day may be the next Google, Facebook or Apple. They need not to wait until genius strikes or come up with the next amazing gadget or phone App. People have achieved substantial business success in every conceivable area. They all had one thing in common which was that someone, sometime had the courage and encouragement to begin.

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