As a manufacturing business established in the UK, with almost all of our founding management team being female, we thought we were pretty well placed to talk about encouraging more women into business. However, as we started to debate the topic we felt it was more relevant, in 2018, to discuss how to encourage more ‘people’ into starting and running their own business, leaving gender aside.
How many young people consider setting up a business?
So, if we live in an era where starting up a business is easier than it’s ever been, why is it that for the majority of young people it’s not even on their radar?
Maybe setting up your own business can seem quite a daunting and overwhelming prospect, full of challenges and endless hurdles to jump. What should I sell? How will I sell it? Where will I sell it? Who will buy it? Will anyone buy it? How much money do I need? How can I finance it? Is it worth the risk? Is there more security if I get a job? So many questions and doubts! Maybe that’s why.
So what does a business actually look like?
Businesses fundamentally look very similar to how they were 30 years ago. Perhaps it’s time they evolved to become something different. It needs to be a career choice that is exciting and aspirational, current and contemporary and full of opportunities.
“The idea of setting up my own business isn’t as frightening or daunting to me. Perhaps this is due to being brought up within a family firm and learning from the experiences of my family. For me, the idea of buying a house is far scarier than setting up a business!!” Tara Telford, Twoey Supply Chain Co-ordinator
What does an entrepreneur look like?
There are many preconceptions and stereotypes of what an ‘entrepreneur’ looks like. Hard selling and overconfident are maybe qualities that spring to mind. Often high profile business owners represented in the media are predominately male, but maybe it’s not about the gender of role models. Maybe it’s the people who aren’t inspiring. They don’t represent what a young person dreams of being, or demonstrate the qualities they aspire to. It’s not hard to believe that a modern woman doesn’t want to be a ‘Business Woman’, but maybe a modern man doesn’t want to tread this path either. The perceptions and stereotypes lodged in our imagination are out of date and bear little relevance to young people so when we try to encourage and inspire the next generation, we are limited by our own vision.
Where’s the motivation and drive?
Being driven by survival is not something we see very much in this country in the twenty-first century. We live in a wealthier society where our basic needs are provided for and survival is far from being a concern. It could be this lack of need that means there’s a lack of drive, which is perhaps what creates an entrepreneur?
“There are so many pieces in the jigsaw of business and one of those is timing. The idea may be revolutionary or just plain good but if the time is not right, for whatever reason, it never gets off the ground. It will happen, it just may not happen for that person at that time. The ideas are always there, they are just waiting to be found…” Rachel Kilpin-Miller, Deputy Managing Director at Twoey
What does a modern entrepreneur look like?
Maybe we should look to sports people for examples of drive and motivation? Are athletes entrepreneurs? In many ways they are. They start as a kid with limited funds, get up at the crack of dawn to practice and train before and after school and give up weekends hanging out with friends. As they progress, they need to source and engage specialists…a coach, a physio, a dietician and work with the best to become the best. They need to find sponsors, secure funding and build their own brand in order to achieve their ultimate vision of being an elite athlete. Perhaps it’s about the recognition and reward?
If more young people had this passion and drive for business, maybe there would be more entrepreneurs. What’s the difference between sport and business as a life and career choice? Is it that parents encourage and support their children to pursue sports because they can and it fits within the family model? As a parent how do you proactively support your child to follow a business dream with the same enthusiasm and commitment?
So to motivate!
How do we do that? Primary schools! This has got to be the time where we grab children and inspire them early without bias or preconception. At this age they are enthusiastic and have limitless imaginations about what the world is and what they can do. We should nurture their naive vision, not dampen it, and guide them to reinvent the role of an entrepreneur. Maybe we need a label that isn’t as staid or traditional or as ‘business’ but find something new and fresh, authentic and genuine, exciting and creative and most of all…without barriers! Who’s in..?
Team Twoey have always been very active and committed in promoting business to schools, colleges and the business community. We believe in empowering young people to have passion and inspiration to follow their dreams and, if they want to, take on the world.
“The key to a successful generation of future business owners is knowledge, excitement and motivation. The business owners of today have a huge role to play in the business owners of tomorrow, and we should take very seriously our responsibilities of sharing our experiences and knowledge with the younger generation.” Johanne Miller, Managing Director, Twoey