Young entrepreneurs value making a difference

Young entrepreneurs are driven by a desire for independence, a belief in social good and a commitment to employee happiness, research finds.

Sage’s Walk With Me report examines the key characteristics, attitudes and behaviours of young entrepreneurs around the world.

The study shows that these business leaders have diverse traits which align them with five workplace personality types:

The principled planners

Extremely methodical in their approach to work, they enjoy carefully planning for success. With an ambitious streak, they never take anything at face value and always ask a lot of questions.

The driven techies

They love their work and can’t bear the thought of sitting around twiddling their thumbs; they trust in the power and efficiency of innovative technology to keep them one step ahead of the competition. They have a strong belief in its ability to accurately target their existing and future customers.

The instinctive explorers

Cavalier, they love the unknown, as well as exploring uncharted territory. They trust their gut instincts and stick to their guns. A modern image is extremely important to them, as is leaving a legacy behind to be remembered by.

The real worlders

Resourceful, but likely to say they rely on technology in order to succeed. When it comes to their approach to work and making decisions, they tend to alternate between going on gut instinct and taking a more methodical approach.

The thrill seekers

Easily bored and always on the lookout for the next challenge, they couldn’t care less about appearances. They work best around others and believe that making a social impact is overrated.

More general trends from the study include a desire to make a difference. Doing social good is especially important to young entrepreneurs in South Africa (80 per cent) and Brazil (81 per cent) compared to other countries.

Respondents in Switzerland (24 per cent), Australia (20 per cent) and France (19 per cent) say employee happiness is what gets them out of bed in the morning, while 34 per cent say they started their own business in order to be master of their own destiny.

When it comes to the work-life balance, 66 per cent value work over life. For respondents in Brazil (71 per cent), Australia (70 per cent), Belgium (70 per cent), Singapore (73 per cent) and Switzerland (70 per cent), reducing the amount of hours they spend working and retiring early is a key focus for them.

In the UK, having control over personal destiny was a big motivation; more than a third of UK respondents (36 per cent) cite being their own boss as being a key driver for starting up a business.

British entrepreneurs are also second most likely to put work before pleasure with 42 per cent saying they prioritise business over socialising. Only Belgium is higher, scoring 43 per cent for this question.

Some 62 per cent of young entrepreneurs globally believe they’ll be a serial entrepreneur, starting more than one than business, with 52 per cent saying this is because they have lots of ideas they want to share with the world.

Kriti Sharma, director of product management for mobile at Sage says, ‘As a millennial entrepreneur myself I know first hand that this business group is shaking things up. We’re rejecting established patterns of working and making technology work for us. We see business through a new lens. We’re willing to work hard, but want flexibility in how, when and with whom we do business.

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly says that millennial entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in the start-up economy and are shaping the modern workplace at great pace.

‘But they can’t be grouped together as a homogenous stereotype,’ he adds. ‘Our research shows that they fall into distinct camps with specific hopes, fears, concerns and ways of working. They will be our next generation of business builders, the heroes of the economy, and understanding what makes them tick now stands us all in good stead for the future.

‘That’s true of the people that want to do business with them, buy from them, hire them or create policy that helps them to grow.’

Further reading on young entrepreneurs

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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