Graduates tend to take one of a couple of routes into the world of work; they either step onto the corporate ladder, taking a 'graduate' job as part of the milk round, or, more commonly, they take any job they can, preferably in an industry vaguely connected with the one they'd like to work in but as often not.
The process of getting to where they actually want to be can take years and involve many hours questioning whether that degree was actually worth all the time, effort and money. And in recent years there is the added pressure of the recession, which according to recent news reports, seems to be hitting graduates hardest as they struggle to get any kind of job, let alone something worthwhile, interesting or rewarding.
It's no wonder then that some graduates are looking at other options including starting their own business. This is a trend that the Wall Street Journal picked up on last year in an article about how many parents were helping to set their children up in business, by either buying them a franchise or funding a start-up, seeing it as a much more likely path to future success than trying to get a job.
But is it wise to encourage young people to set up on their own? Starting a business at any age is a challenge and perceived wisdom tells us that you need to have experience and expertise under your belt to really make it work. s a franchisor with a 23-year-old franchisee, I'd say its absolutely possible and there are actually huge advantages.
In the past, the majority of enquiries tended to be from mums who were looking for a more flexible work situation and indeed many of our franchisees are in this category. We also lots of former teachers, actors and those who have other experience working with children but over the last six to 12 months we've seen a significant increase in the number of enquiries from recent graduates.
Indeed, our youngest franchisee, Emma Luxton, had only just graduated from Exeter University when she got in touch explaining that she wanted to work for herself and she had the backing of her family. She explained why she was looking into setting up her own business: "I don't think I could have gone for a normal, everyday job. I like to challenge myself and, with Pyjama Drama, I'm teaching, working with children, being creative and running a business. That's much more interesting that sitting at a desk!"
To be fair, Emma's situation is slightly unusual in that both her mother and father have always been self-employed themselves and so not only has she grown up with business in her life from a young age but they immediately understood why she wanted to do it.
As Emma has chosen to take the franchise route, she has had the benefit of ongoing support from head office. While this makes the process of starting up in business slightly easier, it still requires a certain set of skills and personality traits to be able to make a success of it. Namely: drive, creativity, enthusiasm, and the ability to pick yourself up if you try something and it doesn't work.
For me this is the key point, age doesn't really matter when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur. If you're the kind of person who will build a great business, you can probably do it at 23 as easily as when you're 43. You will also have the benefit of endless energy, fewer existing commitments and less fear of failure. For Emma, she can think about running the business for 10 or 15 years and even if she decides to then sell it, she'll still be relatively young.
Personally, I'd say we should be encouraging more young graduates to go it alone. Yes they might need some extra support along the way but surely between entrepreneurs, banks and business leaders we can make business ownership a prospect for more graduates.
It's got to be better than working in a burger bar.