Over half of all young people in the UK want to start a business. Yet only 1 in 20 of them actually do. Once a year over 80 countries, 30,000 events and 7 million participants get together to take part in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).
“Entrepreneurs are not born, they are made. Entrepreneurship is a skill that can be taught just like any other. That’s why Global Entrepreneurship Week is so vital right now. To inspire thousands of people to pursue their ideas, to create jobs and to build global ambition among young people and business owners alike.” Peter Jones, entrepreneur and Enterprise UK Chair.
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) puts the spotlight on enterprise, opening up new opportunities for people across the country and the world. But what impact has this had on the island we call Britain? When I was knee high to a grasshopper the term ‘entrepreneur’ didn’t really exist. Those who engaged in those types of activities were usually just referred to as ‘business men’ which was really too broad a phrase to describe what was about to happen.
In the last 15 years or so the term became more and more popular even if people didn’t know what it meant, and was used to describe those mavericks who seemingly had the magic touch and could turn nothing into something. A few definitions of the term “Entrepreneurship” exist:
• Origin: 1875 one who undertakes (some task), prendere “to take”
• Wikipedia: the art or science of innovation and risk-taking for profit in business
The keyword here is to take or undertake. But to take what? Opportunity when it presents itself, advantage of market conditions or risks in order to see a dream become reality?
Each year GEW challenges schools to come up with ideas to solve a particular problem. Runners up in 2008, Uxbridge College had to come up with an innovative idea for the 2012 Olympics and devised a plan called ‘Words of the World’ to enable the entire Olympic stadium to be language friendly by the use of translation technologies from the stands to directions to local services. They would have allowed businesses to advertise on these platforms and therefore change it from a cost centre to a revenue generator.
These kids were just teenagers but developed an idea which would challenge any seasoned entrepreneur. What’s important is that for that morning they we’re given an environment to be able to foster those ideas outside of the normal curriculum for that day.
So what can us oldies learn from these young entrepreneurs?
1. Ignorance is bliss – Sometimes not knowing how things work entirely can allow you to come up with fresh ideas which are genuinely out of the box because you were never in the box. Youngsters lack experience in real world business but this means they look at things differently from those of us who allow our experiences to restrict our thinking
2. Willing to learn – There’s a term martial arts experts use ‘putting on your white belt’ which suggests that although you might be a black belt, in order to learn something new you have to put your mind back to when you we’re a beginner; empty your glass!
3. Dance like nobody is looking – We grown folk have a tendency especially in the UK to be somewhat reserved and toe the line in most of what we do. Entrepreneurs have to do the exact opposite. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes if this is your first, second or even third time in business, just learn from them, increase your knowledge base and get smart people around you.
4. Embrace technology – It may not be fair but the youth of today have grown up in the midst of technology, the internet and such, whereas for many of us grown ups, it’s something we’ve had to adopt. However the words entrepreneurship and internet and now synonymous with each other and there’s little getting away from it. The reason is that many of these platforms are free to use and require little techie knowledge to get round. Yet they can create a huge impact on your ability to setup and market your business. The youth have fully embraced this and so should ‘we’