Emma Jones: Britain’s Young Strivers Part of the Start-Up Revolution

Emma Jones at Pop Up Britain - Britain’s Young Strivers Part of the Start-Up RevolutionBy Emma Jones, co-founder StartUp Britain and founder of online small business community Enterprise Nation.

 As a national campaign, it’s our business to know what’s going on in the start-up world.  And what we are witnessing is nothing short of revolution in the way we work.

The contribution the start-up community makes to the British economy is at an all-time high.  We are witnessing record numbers of people setting up businesses in the UK.  Our daily tracker suggests 2012 will be another record-breaking year and with the 4.8m private sector companies employing an estimated 23.9m people with a turnover of £3,100bn, it’s clear it’s a trend that’s fundamental to our collective economic well-being.

We’re still catching our breath after our ambitious StartUp Tour on the endearing enterprise bus that helped us take the start-up message to just under 10,000 young people across the UK in more than 40 universities and colleges.

According to research, this generation which has been disproportionately affected by a downturn that they had no hand in, are now more likely to see entrepreneurial opportunity ahead of them than any generation before them.

Our experience and a new survey we conducted on the bus are testament to this. Our report revealed that 63 per cent of the students and young people we spoke to are now looking to start a business.

It’s because they want more freedom of course, and they want to be their own boss – but more than 20 per cent of them thought entrepreneurship could earn them more money than getting a job.

From where we’re standing – they’re probably right and we would add that it’s just as secure, if not more so. We don’t need to hear it on the news that pay isn’t keeping up with inflation. We see it everywhere.

Interestingly, only four per cent said they were looking to become their own boss because they feared they wouldn’t get a job – so for the majority, starting-up is a definitive career choice, not born out of sheer desperation.

Another surprising figure to come out of the survey was the fact that when we asked them about essential equipment needed to start-up, 70 per cent said a laptop, quickly followed by a mobile phone – but the revelation that even took us by surprise was that only 0.3 per cent said they felt having an office was at all important.

Out with the filing cabinet and the waste paper basket, in with the soya latte and the cloud.

If you thought we were living through a revolution now – just wait for a few years until the 15 to 21-year-olds we spoke to start trading seriously and you will see yet more radical change.  The implications of this are incredible.

Will coffee shops become the bastions of intellectual and economic debate like they were in the laissez-faire world of Adam Smith? No one can afford to be a legend in their own lunchtime any more – but might we start to get used to seeing business deals being conducted over a pint?

Our campaign exists because of the foresight of a select bunch of big businesses that have been able to see this revolution coming for some time.  Dell, Intuit, Intel, PayPal, AXA, Magento Go, add to that those who supported our tour – The Gazelle Group and .CO Internet – are all aware that this quiet metamorphosis is happening.  They will be seen in history as early adopters.  They know what this means for the British and the global economy and they want to be part of it.

  • StartUp Britain is a national campaign that seeks to encourage more people to consider starting a business.  It lobbies to remove the barriers to growth that start-ups face.

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