Research has revealed 76% of young people aged 18-30 struggled to identify an entrepreneurial role model they could relate to
Entrepreneurial icons such as Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson no longer inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, according to a new study into business role models.
More than 76% of 18- to 30-year-olds surveyed by talent investment firm Entrepreneur First couldn’t identify any entrepreneurial role models they aspired to.
This despite the fact that 58% of the 10,000 respondents from France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and the UK claimed to be more ambitious than their parents’ generation.
More than half stated they had ambitions to start their own business and saw it as the best way to achieve their professional ambitions.
Entrepreneur First CEO Matt Clifford said: “The next generation of talent in the UK is evidently ambitious, but is being held back by a lack of role models.
“Lord Sugar and Richard Branson are rightly respected for what they’ve achieved, but if the next generation can’t relate to them, surely it’s time to retire these individuals as the go-to entrepreneurs?
“This is critical for global business and innovation or we risk the world missing out on some of its best founders.”
Ageing celebrity entrepreneurs not suitable role models
In 2013 a report from professional services firm EY found that the rise of popular television programmes such as The Apprentice, had helped to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the UK.
The show, which is fronted by Lord Sugar, recently entered its 15th series despite viewing figures peaking in 2011.
Many of the British entrepreneurs commonly cited as inspirational role models are now in their 70s and a lack of diversity may also be a barrier for younger generations identifying with them.
Lord Sugar and James Dyson are both 72, while Richard Branson is 69.
Financial concerns were also found to be a significant factor when it came to young entrepreneurs achieving their potential.
The research found that 41% of the under-30s questioned were worried about the financial risks associated with starting a business, while 39% cited a lack of access to capital as a major inhibitor to their business ambitions.
The result is that almost 50% of young people fear they are going to go through a quarter-life career crisis, and more than a third don’t believe they are meeting their full potential in their current situation.
Clifford added: “It is our responsibility to empower those with the talent and propensity to work hard to become leaders in their field.
“The UK needs to be confident that it can produce the next wave of founders, who can create something impactful that changes the world.”