For most university students, running a successful business not only seems overwhelming, but nearly impossible while simultaneously juggling studies. An infographic on how to become a student entrepreneur gives a step-by-step breakdown of the process – including competition research, creating a business plan, and seeking mentorship from more experienced entrepreneurs. The infographic also provides some key insights into today’s university climate, stating that 10% of university students have already started a business, 17% plan to start up before graduation, and another 27% plan to begin after graduation as a long term career. And while it is unlikely that each and every one of these students will follow through and overcome every obstacle, this equates to just over half of all students citing involvement in entrepreneurship.
Another surprising study from Santander bank showed that among UK students, “Almost a quarter already run their own business or entrepreneurial venture, or plan to while at university.” This trend certainly isn’t limited to the UK, as other reports show student entrepreneurship rising in countries all over the world.
Just days ago, Channel News Asia featured a story on the rise of entrepreneurship in Singapore, a country that is slowly becoming known as an entrepreneurial hub among investors. Since 2012, Singapore has jumped seven spots higher on a report ranking the top startup ecosystems internationally. With thousands of new companies cropping up in Singapore since 2014 alone, it may leave you wondering — why the sudden rise in startup confidence among young people?
A Digital Movement
The trend in growing student entrepreneurship isn’t locally concentrated, which points to a collective, international movement based on access to new knowledge. The cause of this, undoubtedly, is technology. Technology has given students an easy way to not only start their businesses online, but also research critical components like marketing, budgeting, and product development — all of which they may have known nothing about prior. With this skill-building culture firmly in place, students are feeling more empowered, capable, and willing to take a business risk. While navigating the complex waters of starting a business, founders need all the insight they can get to understand when and how to implement strategic decision-making. To say this is overwhelming, especially for students, would be an understatement. This brings us to the next causal factor in rising entrepreneurship — community spaces for support and collaboration.
A New Way to Work Together
As more students venture into entrepreneurship with innovative product and service ideas, coworking spaces and incubators continue to pop up in cities around the globe. The MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa) has not been historically touted for it’s blossoming startup culture — especially in Western media outlets which focus heavily on war and government corruption. However, many of the smaller countries in this region are the latest to hop on board with a plethora of new and successful startup ideas. Examples include 302labs in Cairo, Cloud5 in Beirut, and Impact Hub’s branch in Dubai. Impact Hub hosts coworking spaces and educational events for freelancers and startup employees around the world, linking previously isolated places in MENA to a broad-scale, global movement. Along with networking events and workshops, many of these spaces provide intensive mentorship from highly experienced professionals, filling a much-needed gap for young entrepreneurs in their startup’s early years.
Risk or Adventure?
Another part of the reason why entrepreneurship is exploding in popularity among students is the economic uncertainty and recessions occurring across the globe. Starting up on your own means freedom, taking personal responsibility, and most importantly, a better chance for financial stability in today’s economy. Furthermore, the idea of entrepreneurship is shifting away from “major risk” toward “what have I got to lose?” as the perceived value of the college degree loses ground. Students are finding themselves underemployed, unemployed, or stuck in positions they don’t enjoy, while others have watched hardworking parents get laid off after decades at a company. Thus the viewpoint of entrepreneurship is quickly shifting from scary and uncertain, to empowering, creative, and even fun. With the help of technology and expanding community spaces, the future is brighter than ever for intelligent young students with the drive to venture out on their own.