The age of the mini-Zuckerberg dawns

Three-quarters of 11-18 year olds want to start their own business, apparently. We detect the influence of the celebrity entrepreneur - although that might not be the only reason.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 02 Aug 2011
They might have gained a reputation among the tabloids for being a bunch of iPod-toting, hoodie-wearing layabouts who collect asbos like their predecessors collected stamps. But it turns out that as a generation, the nation's yoof is actually remarkably self motivated. In fact, a survey by insurance company Axa has found that more than three-quarters of 11-18 year olds want to start their own businesses. Watch out, Richard Branson: the next generation is hot on your heels.

This enthusiasm about becoming an entrepreneur isn't just some kind of passing fad, either: according to the survey of 2,000 secondary school students, just under half say they've always wanted to be their own boss. And it seems that girls and boys are on an even footing, too: while 80% of boys were keen on the idea of running their own businesses, exactly three quarters of girls expressed a desire to do the same. This may well be the first generation that can boast that sort of ambitiousness among its girlfolk.

So what's happened to create this sudden enthusiasm for entrepreneurialism? Well, given that 22% of the respondents said they wanted to start an 'online or digital business' or run an IT company, Axa suggests the likes of Mark Zuckerberg have made the idea of being a super-geek cool. But that might not be the only reason. After all, this is a generation that's grown up watching parents and grandparents being made redundant, losing money and even losing houses. Presumably, the idea of running your own business seems like a better bet than the idea of working for someone else. After all, business owners have more control over their own destinies than employees, and the effort you put in is on your own account rather than someone else's.

Still: it's encouraging stuff. Even more reason to give entrepreneurialism extra space in the national curriculum, as per yesterday's suggestion by the Aldridge Foundation. The youth of today, eh? Always wanting more.

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