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Why We Want Young Entrepreneurs to Think Global

Andrew Devenport - CEO at The Prince's Youth Business InternationalBy Andrew Devenport, Youth Business International

Given today’s turbulent economy, young people with entrepreneurial aspirations could be forgiven for thinking that starting a business, let alone one with global ambitions, is too risky or complicated a career option.

However, looking at some research we have just released to mark Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012, it actually seems now may well be a good time for budding young entrepreneurs to begin thinking about starting up.

For our Future Gazing research, which was announced on Monday at the Week’s launch event, hosted by Youth Business International (YBI) in partnership with Barclays, we interviewed 100 entrepreneurs who already had successful businesses up and running to find out what they thought about opportunities for the future.

Their responses show a surprising amount of optimism, despite the economic gloom, and that the recession is even creating opportunities. Almost half forecast an improved operating environment for UK entrepreneurs in the next two years and over a third believe the environment they are operating in at the moment is good or very good. Looking to the next few years, 74% of respondents think the number of start ups will increase.

When asked about markets with the best prospects in the next five years, almost one in five recommended entrepreneurs look to ‘go global’, citing technological and online developments as enabling start ups to easily do business anywhere in the world. The sectors that entrepreneurs think show the most promise are the creative industries, green economy, social enterprise and IT and telecoms. From our work at YBI, we’ve seen how much potential for growth there is when fledgling businesses are able to link up with global connections. Whether it’s learning from others’ business models, forging trading partnerships or being able to network with people in countries they are trying to break into, we encourage entrepreneurs to have a global mindset from the outset.

It’s clear that successful entrepreneurs are especially optimistic about the future for the next generation of entrepreneurs and are keen to pass on their knowledge, skills and what they’ve learned. Almost half of the entrepreneurs we spoke to believe that starting a business is already a more viable career choice for young people than entering the traditional jobs market – this rises to 70% looking ahead five years. Many told us that they would like to, or are already, mentoring young people with ambitions to set up their own business.

This is something we feel is key to both starting up and growing a small business. With a wealth of information and resources out there, young people need seasoned entrepreneurs – and initiatives like Global Entrepreneurship Week – to guide them towards the best and most relevant support. Building entrepreneurs’ skills through mentoring and knowledge sharing is incredibly important, and I’d like to see more young people seeking out these kinds of non-financial types of support. The events running during Global Entrepreneurship Week are a great place to start.

Andrew Devenport is Chief Executive of Youth Business International which is hosting Global Entrepreneurship Week in the UK in partnership with Barclays. For more information on the Week, and to get involved, visit www.gew.org.uk.

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