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Are you a Grad starting your own business? You’re not alone.

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Being a part of such a large start-up community here in London, we are always interested to find out what drives young entrepreneurs to break away from the norm and start their own business.

The economy is currently on the up creating more jobs and demand for skilled workers – so what is making so many new graduates want to go it on their own, and is there a trend in the type of businesses they are starting?

Back in February specialist youth research agency YouthSight published some very interesting figures about young undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurs….

We asked Josephine Hansom, Director at YouthSight why they conducted the research and what they hoped to learn from the results…


“At YouthSight we regularly conduct our own in-house research into topics and trends that young people talk about.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had an increasing number of our conversations with young people about their desire to ‘be their own boss’.

This ambition is very current, and forms a way of looking at the world for many young people in the UK.

YouthSight decided to investigate this ambition in more detail to explore when young people feel ready to become an entrepreneur and how many young people had already started their own business.

As it transpires, the ambition of students to become an entrepreneur is watered down as they approach graduation and the realities of the real world.”


The stats don’t lie.

27% of the students asked started or planned to start their own business at University and 14% of Grad’s asked wanted to continue working for themselves.

It is true, as a student, you are faced with many challenges once you leave University.

What seemed like a cool business idea probably isn’t really going to help you repay your student debts.

But we want to know what is driving that other 14% to start their own business?

Internships & placements…

The article which you can read on the YouthSight website, cited that young people are now wanting more and more to “craft a career based upon personal interest rather than professional training” leading to the idea of internships giving young people a “taste” of an industry.

Here at Give A Grad A Go we always get our Graduates into paid placements, but is it the bad experience Grads are having with unpaid work that is pushing them to the DIY attitude?

Or are we seeing an influx of young people taking inspiration from doing a placement in a start-up; where you are given more responsibility and are not just expected to prepare the tea.

You get to see first-hand working in a small business or start-up that a business is no longer defined by the four walls that confine its employees.

Now, a savvy young entrepreneur only needs a laptop and a winning idea to put their company on the map.

You only need to look at companies like Steer and Student Beans – new and exciting businesses at the forefront of digital and being created by young people mostly for young people.

The success of some many of these start-ups can only be encouraging for anyone wanting to start their own business – especially when the likelihood is some of the young professionals behind these businesses could have been your peers at University!

A change of direction…

Reading YouthSight’s research it’s also interesting to see that many of the undergraduates and graduates who are taking the leap into starting their own businesses are doing so outside of their field of study, something that reinforces the idea of a degree not dictating your career, a subject we recently covered on the blog.

YouSight have found that the undergraduates who started their own businesses at University, a huge 26% go into the technology industry, mentioning “software or app development” being the most popular businesses started.

But, none of the batch of students asked were actually studying an IT or technology-related degree!

Perhaps it’s as Josephine describes as the “realities of the real world” that puts students off wanting to further pursue their own business after their degree, but we hope with the wave of new businesses started by young entrepreneurs will help inspire some more young people to take the leap.

As we mentioned, it only takes a great idea and the determination to pursue it.

Find more career advice on our Graduate Blog – or search the latest jobs on our Graduate Jobs board!

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