A quarter of Britain’s entrepreneurs left school at 16

Sage report finds over half of UK business owners left school by 18 deciding life experience would offer a better education than university

Britain’s entrepreneurs favour real world experience over higher education, according to research into the motivations and educational backgrounds of UK entrepreneurs carried out by Sage.

More than half (51%) of those surveyed had left education by the age of 18, while a quarter (26%) chose to leave at 16. Additionally, 31% of respondents had started their own business by the age of 30. The figures suggest that those with an entrepreneurial spirit strive to forge their own path from an early age.

Britain’s current business leaders cite english (64%) and maths (63%) as the most beneficial skills to be adept in for running a business, although there has been a shift towards digital skills in recent government agendas.

Although respondents stated that business studies (29%) and IT and computer sciences (26%) would have been the most useful in retrospect, only 19% regarded the latter as useful skills for running a business. However, it is clear that times are changing, and knowledge of technology is regarded as essential for modern start-ups.

The report’s statistics on generational gaps between entrepreneurs shed some light on current and changing attitudes to technology. 41% of those aged 18-34 said they found IT and computer science to be currently the most useful subject, compared to just 11% of respondents over 55.

Almost half of entrepreneurs surveyed cited a desire to work for themselves as their main motivation for starting a business, while 28% said a lack of employment or change in circumstance was a defining factor. Surprisingly, only 11% claimed a desire to make more money as motivation.

As well as working for themselves, 82% revealed that the autonomy to make their own decisions was what they most enjoyed about running a business, with 63% citing the better work life balance granted by self employment. Elsewhere, 38% enjoyed the creative freedom. The study also found that 67% only run one business, with 71% still running their first business. Just 9% had moved city or town to improve their chances of success.

Sage start-up and small business’ Lee Perkins said of the findings:“Britain has always been a nation where entrepreneurs have been able to thrive.

“Although education is undoubtedly an integral factor in creating business success, this research confirms that it is still possible to follow in the footsteps of the Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons of this world to pursue your own path at a young age. Small businesses will continue to be the bedrock of our growing economy, so we should celebrate that as a success of our enduring enterprising spirit as a nation.”


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