Young entrepreneurs: UK trumps US

"I answered the classic – if not slightly boring – conversation opener “So what is it you do?” whilst tucking into an uncharacteristically tasty plane meal on my way to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. The first thing out of the enquirer’s mouth after my response was: “But you barely look old enough to be out of school!” followed by “No offence intended. I’m just surprised, that’s all.”

"My new plane buddy was a property developer in his fifties called Tim. Being American, by "school" he meant university. Either way it was still quite a statement. I don’t suppose the fact that I had chosen FHM over the FT and flip flops over brogues that morning had in anyway helped his assessment. But even so…

"Tim’s reaction came as a surprise to me, No one had responded remotely like he had in several years – probably not since I was in my early twenties and a fair bit younger than a stereotypical entrepreneur. As we talked more, he explained that his surprise came from the fact a university education is expected in the US and that an individual’s prospects would be severely limited without one: Barack Obama said recently he expects most of the new jobs being created will require at least a two-year college education.

"Tim and I went on to trade stories about business. He was genuinely shocked at the age people I knew had founded companies. He’d read about the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world but was fairly sure he’d not met a business owner under the age of 30. The “smart young bucks” as he called them. The same description here would probably be aimed at someone in their late teens (the so-called teenpreneurs) or young entrepreneurs in their very early twenties. Even at 28 I probably don’t fall into the young buck category anymore, especially when you consider there are people out there running business who were born after Italia 90!"

To read the full article, check out Dan McGuire’s column.

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