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‘Generation side hustle’ has potential to help tackle some of society’s greatest social, environmental and economic challenges



New report highlights how greater support for young, purpose-driven entrepreneurs could bring social rewards along with huge boost to struggling UK economy

A report launched today by Youth Business International in partnership with The Entrepreneurs Network has revealed the enormous potential for young entrepreneurs. Often dismissed as ‘generation side hustle’ as many pursue their business passions alongside other work, the new report is clear that these businesses could be a force for good in society.

Young entrepreneurs are creating greener businesses, promoting more responsible working practices and generating a significant boost to the economy, but only if they are given the right support to start up and grow their business.

Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs looks at the differences between entrepreneurial behaviours of those over and under 35. Based on extensive polling of UK business owners, the report uncovers how they operate their businesses and what sets them apart, indicating the ways the younger generation runs their businesses has changed dramatically in recent years.  One of the key findings is a generational gulf in attitudes on the purpose of businesses, with entrepreneurs under 35 more than twice as likely to say their business’s primary aim is to solve a social or environmental problem (39% vs 18%) and also more likely to say their business focuses on promoting diversity and social good, even if that comes at the expense of profit (41% vs 25%.)

The younger generation of entrepreneurs is also more likely to choose suppliers that are aligned to their values, with 51% saying that they will choose suppliers which do good for society, even if they cost more or they have to compromise in another way. However, this social purpose is not incompatible with pursuing growth. In fact, the more a business turns over the more likely they are to agree that their business’s primary aim is to tackle a social or environmental problem, with close to half (47%) of entrepreneurs turning over £1m+ each year agreeing.

Anita Tiessen, CEO of Youth Business International comments:

“The findings of this research show what we know to be true through our daily conversations with our global network – the next generation of entrepreneurs want to change the face of business for the better, but they can’t do this alone.

At a time when we are facing so many social, environmental and economic challenges we cannot afford to ignore the enormous potential of this next generation of business founders and it’s vital that we give them greater access to finance, information and tailored support that reflects the changing face of entrepreneurship.”

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The report also highlights the ways in which young entrepreneurs are doing business differently, for example they are more likely to do most of their business online (35% vs 27%) and to have mentors and attend business networking events (71% vs 46%) than older business owners. Business owners under the age of 35 actively seek out external sources of information about the best way to run their business in a way their older counterparts don’t, with 35% listening to podcasts, 68% utilising social media and 12% turning to accelerators or incubators for knowledge.

Despite the enthusiasm of many in this younger generation to start their own business (more than half people aged 14 to 25 in the UK have thought about starting a business.[1] ) it remains an extremely uneven playing field, with young entrepreneurs three times as likely to be privately educated. Of those surveyed for the report, business owners under 35 were more likely to say they had help through personal connections to get their business running than older entrepreneurs (45% vs 38%) and were more likely to have raised finance from family and friends, making it increasingly challenging for those from less affluent backgrounds to be able to fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Philip Salter, Founder of The Entrepreneurs Network comments:

“Many young entrepreneurs have their sights set on the world’s biggest challenges. If many of these ambitions are to be realised we need to make sure that the best ideas are funded – not just the best connected.”

In order to help realise the full entrepreneurial potential of Britain’s young people the report outlines three key ways that policy makers, funders and those within the entrepreneurship ecosystem can take action:

  1. Create new sources of funding for businesses seeking to address the world’s big challenges
  2. Bring back support for people who quit their jobs in order to start businesses
  3. Provide more support for entrepreneurs through mentoring and by opening up networks.

The report was launched at a reception at the Houses of Parliament today and Youth Business International and The Entrepreneurs Network will be inviting stakeholders to work together to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Sophie Ukor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Violet Simon, who will address the audience at the launch of the report today said: “Supporting entrepreneurs, especially now, during the cost of living crisis is so important for the future diversity of our business communities and society at large. I moved to the UK and gave up my network and my connections and resources to be here. I know that the work I am doing is worthwhile, but we need adequate funding and more networking opportunities to be able to make the impact we know we can.”

To download the full report please visit


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