Who wants to be a millionaire? continued...
Fifteen young entrepreneurs were studied as part of the research project which found that half of the young people had at least one entrepreneurial parent, while a third had another family member who they believed had been influential in their decision to become an entrepreneur.
“It was apparent that the entrepreneurial parents did not generally advise their children to become entrepreneurs, but the young people developed similar behaviours, attitudes and values to their parents and ‘inherited’ that type of career,” explains James.
“Financial support was not apparent from parents, but we did find evidence of support in the way of business advice, the use of the parents’ networks and parental resources such as IT equipment, as well as work experience in the family business. Although interestingly, all of the young entrepreneurs set up their own independent businesses rather than simply taking on the family business.”
The study identified that, on the whole, the entrepreneurs placed greater value on their experiential learning than their formal education achievements when explaining their entrepreneurial success. All participants were educated to A level standard with just over half attending university. Many chose subjects at A level and degree level which were relevant to business or their chosen sector.
“The only notable difference was that many of those who went to university were able to grow their business more quickly at the beginning, probably owing to graduate level work experience they had undertaken. However, it did not always follow that they were able to build larger businesses,” says James.
Work experience was a key theme running throughout the research, with many of the participants having some sort of low level experience, for example restaurant or shop work. Interestingly though some viewed working for other people as a negative experience; the study highlighted a feeling of restriction, and the lack of autonomy when working for someone else did not sit well with the participants.
“What the entrepreneurs did find helpful as a learning curve were the informal ventures they have taken on themselves, either at primary school or during their early teens,” says James. “Thirteen of the participants had run some sort of informal venture on a small scale and it was these experiences that they say helped to develop skills, such as selling and negotiation which were essential to set up their first main ventures.