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Why Business Leaders Should Support the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

What does the future of business look like? It’s an age-old question that is constantly on the lips of senior management, thought leaders, and CEOs.

We are constantly being hit with advice on how to adapt your business to fit in with current societal trends – whether that’s digital transformation, hybrid working, and so on.

While it is very important to look at how best to future-proof your business, I believe that senior leaders should also consider who will actually be running the business in ten, twenty- or thirty years’ time.

Today’s leaders have a responsibility to empower the entrepreneurs of tomorrow – this, more than anything else, will be fundamental to the growth of Britain’s economy.

Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur often seems unachievable. The general perception for so many is that you can only be successful if you’ve got financial backing and the right contacts.

Indeed, Youth Employment UK recently reported that 55% of young people had never had a discussion about starting a business as a future career option at school. Clearly, young people are missing the advice and support to take this path.

There is a major untapped opportunity to equip young people with the skills to start, run, and grow a business. Over half (51%) of young people in the UK have thought about starting (or have already started) a business, yet 70% believe ‘not knowing where to start’ is a key barrier to following through. There is also a dearth of inspiring role models: when asked, 57% of young people could not name an entrepreneur who inspires them.

Young people are more likely to consider starting or have started a company if they are attending (65%) or have graduated from university (63%) compared to 18-25-year-olds who haven’t attended university (53%).

Exposure to entrepreneurship is a key driver of entrepreneurial intention. Young people who have thought about starting or started a company are more likely to have a family member or friend who is a business owner (57% vs 47% have not thought about it) and seven in ten (68%) say that having a family member or friend who is an entrepreneur has made them more likely to consider starting a business.

Entrepreneurship education is one answer

Too often, it’s not ambition that young people lack but opportunity – especially when it comes to learning the basics of starting and running a business.

Integrating entrepreneurship education into the school curriculum is long overdue, which is why we urgently need a future-fit education system. It’s not just about putting young people on the path to entrepreneurship. It’s about providing valuable life skills such as confidence, creativity, and problem-solving. Suppose children can start to learn these lessons from a school age. In that case, there’s no doubt they will approach the world of work with so much more confidence, putting both themselves at an advantage as well as ensuring our business landscape remains on the cutting-edge of innovation.

That’s why I’m spearheading a campaign to get entrepreneurship integrated into the school curriculum. Together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship, finnCap has launched a report on entrepreneurship education to explore how the government can help equip young people with the skills to start, run, and grow a business, or have the skills to work in an entrepreneurial company.

Business leaders also need to step up

Age is no barrier to having a smart idea, it’s the little or no access to mentors, networks, and funding that hold young people back. The lack of diversity and social inclusion in British business is a pressing issue and it’s up to us as business leaders to provide ways to close the opportunity gap.

As CEOs we know that technological developments will continue to reshape the workplace as we know it, meaning that business operations are changing more quickly than ever before. On top of that, the international lens with which business is carried out today means that young people will be more likely than their older counterparts to be working across multiple continents. In addition to all this, long gone are the days when people stick to just one career at one company – multiple career paths crossing various sectors is very much the new norm.

It can seem overwhelming, which is why business leaders need to do everything they can to help equip future generations with the skills and mindsets they need to navigate a world of work we can’t yet envisage.

What we’re doing at finnCap

At finnCap, being in the business of tomorrow means empowering the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, which is why we set up The Side Hustle Initiative, with YourGamePlan.

The Side Hustle Initiative is a UK nationwide Dragon’s Den style competition, for all 14-18-year-olds to present their side hustle or amazing business idea. The aim of the competition is to provide the opportunity to those children who might not have the tools at their disposal to put their ideas into practice. We want to help them realise their dreams and help channel their entrepreneurial thinking into becoming a reality.

The competition is now in its second year running – last year’s winner was Benjamin Adegoke, a 17-year-old ‘teen-preneur’ from East London who won by presenting his ‘advanced yet affordable 3D printing solutions service’, having taught himself how to 3D-model and saving up his lunch money to buy himself a 3D printer.

Another finalist was Alfie Jones, who set up a garden maintenance company during the lockdown as a way to occupy his time while he couldn’t get a ‘traditional job’. Now employing a team of staff, Alfie is pursuing this business full-time.

We want to help further the careers of the business leaders of tomorrow through our mentoring scheme and funding pot. As well as this, we want to give the opportunity for young people to network and learn from those whose experiences and journeys are hoped to inspire and improve their chances of having a successful future. We know that if we can join forces with like-minded leaders who will do the same, the future of business will be stronger and more prosperous than we could ever imagine.



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