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Britain’s entrepreneurial teen dream


  • 51% of Britain’s entrepreneurs left education by 18, while 26% had started a business by the age of 30
  • English and Mathematics the most useful subjects for entrepreneurs
  • Business owners enjoy a better work life balance, and revel in the freedom and autonomy of making important decisions

London, 5 March, 2015: Research by Elavon Financial Services DAC has today unveiled that Britain’s business community is dominated by entrepreneurs who favour real-world experience over higher education. That’s according to the findings of a study into the motivations and educational backgrounds of the UK’s entrepreneurs.

Just over half (51%) of the country’s entrepreneurs surveyed left education by the age of 18, with over a quarter (26%) having left school at the age of 16, suggesting a desire to break free from the structures of the education system and make their own way at an early age. The study also found that almost a third (31%) of entrepreneurs had started their own business by the age of 30.

Shifting skills landscape                     

Although digital skills have been hot on the Government agenda in recent years, Britain’s current business leaders cite English (64%) and Maths (63%) as the most useful skills to have when it comes to running a business.

IT and Computer Sciences, often regarded as essential knowledge for modern startups, were placed a distant third (19%). Yet, when asked which subjects they would have found most beneficial in retrospect, business studies (29%) and IT and Computer Sciences (26%) came out on top, indicating the increasingly prominent role of technology in business.

Elavon Financial Services DAC’s report also revealed fascinating generational gaps between entrepreneurs which reflect Britain’s changing business landscape, with 41% of respondents aged 18-34 saying they found IT and Computer science to be currently the most useful subject when running their business, compared to only 11% of respondents aged 55+.

Motivations and benefits

When asked what motivated them to start their own business, almost half (46%) cited a desire to work for themselves as the main reason, although more than one in four (28%) said a lack of employment or change in circumstance was a defining factor. Only 11% cited a desire to make more money as their main motivation.

Meanwhile, when asked what they most enjoyed about running their own business, the report revealed that entrepreneurs revel in the freedom and autonomy to make important decisions (82%) and enjoy a better work life balance after becoming self-employed (63%).

“Britain has always been a nation where entrepreneurs have been able to thrive,” said Lee Perkins, EVP and MD, of Elavon Financial Services DAC UKI . “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.”

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, said: “The psychological makeup of entrepreneurs is fascinating and they come in all shapes, sizes and personality traits. However, one thing that unifies them all is hard work and ambition, so it is not surprising that Elavon Financial Services DAC’s research shows many entrepreneurs entered the world of work at a young age. This early experience will have given them an essential foundation in core skills and business acumen, paving the way to starting their own businesses.”

Other findings of the report revealed that:

  • 38% enjoy the greater creative freedom of running their own business
  • Most entrepreneurs (67%) have set up only one business, with 71% still running the business they had first started
  • Only 9% have moved location to improve the chances of their business succeeding, with another city or a small town being the most popular destinations



Notes to editors: The survey was conducted by Redshift Research among 1000 entrepreneurs in the UK in December 2014. Entrepreneurs are defined as owners of small businesses that employ between 1-25 people.


About Elavon Financial Services DAC
We provide small and medium sized organisations, and mid-market companies, with a range of easy-to-use, secure and efficient business management software and services - from accounting, HR and payroll, to payments, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management. Our customers receive continuous advice and support through our global network of local experts to help them solve their business problems, giving them the confidence to achieve their business ambitions.  Formed in 1981, Elavon Financial Services DAC was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and entered the FTSE 100 in 1999. Elavon Financial Services DAC has millions of customers and 12,975 employees in 23 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, Asia and Brazil. For further information please visit www.Elavon Financial Services