A new European report about entrepreneurship was recently launched. It reveals that entrepreneurship remains one of the best solutions to tackle the issue of youth unemployment, which has reached 50% in countries like Spain and Greece.
Although just 6.5% of Europeans aged 15–29 years are self‑employed, young people are interested in starting their own business. 49% of people aged 15–34 years consider entrepreneurship as a desirable career choice. The percentage varies among European Member States, ranging from 32% or less in states like UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Slovakia, and Germany, to more than 57% in Mediterranean countries (Portugal, Greece, Italy and Croatia), some eastern European countries (such as Romania and Bulgaria) and the Baltic states.
Entrepreneurship is not a career path that fits everyone. Studies show that when it comes to personal values, employees and self‑employed people are not exactly on the same page. Compared to 9 to 5 employees, young self‑employed persons value more the following:
- Not having too much pressure;
- Having responsibilities;
- Having a positive impact upon society;
- Achieving something;
- Matching personal abilities;
- Learning new skills;
- Having a say in crucial decisions;
- Working in a family‑friendly environment.
On the other hand, employees are attracted to: job security, good working hours, and generous holidays.
Entrepreneurial DNA. Do you have it?
The entrepreneurial DNA is a mix of high-levels of creativity, innovative tendencies, freedom-seeking, low risk aversion and autonomy.
Venture enthusiasm killers
So what exactly keeps young people away from the startup scene? When speaking of startup barriers, 82% of European youth thinks lack of finance and financial support is among the strongest enthusiasm killers. The second-placed (72%) is the administrative burden of creating a new company (permits, licenses, simplicity of procedures). Moreover, 49% of young Europeans consider the lack of information as one of the key barriers to launching a startup. This share varies from less than 20% for Estonians or Dutch and goes over 66% for Croatians, Bulgarians, Portuguese, Romanians and Greeks.
And the award goes to…
Fortunately, there are countries that master the entrepreneurial art, and according to the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), UK is currently the most entrepreneurial-friendly state in Europe, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. GEI is an index that calculates the development and health of the entrepreneurship ecosystems worldwide.
The secret ingredients
A few countries (Finland, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands) have found ways to encourage startups. They developed various initiatives that:
- Encouraged the entrepreneurial culture and the startup mindset;
- Removed practical and logistical barriers;
- Spread information, professional advice, coaching and mentoring programs for future entrepreneurs.
Such successful initiatives were: the ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ competition, setting up business incubators or launching national comprehensive policies for entrepreneurship education.
All that’s left now for European and national authorities is to have the right policies targeting the right people. In other words, it’s not enough to promote entrepreneurship. The key is to find the “carriers” of the entrepreneurial DNA, then mentoring them and getting them ready to face the challenges of the real market. It cannot entirely solve the youth unemployment issue, but it will create jobs and help young people develop new skills.