Fear of failure holding back young engineer entrepreneurs

New research from the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub shows that fear of failure is preventing young engineers from acting on business ideas.

Over two fifths (42%) of young people gave this as a reason for not turning an idea into a business, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of 45 to 54-year-olds. The figures closely align with separate research from the Enterprise Hub which found that young engineers were especially fearful of failure; more than half (56%) cited this as one of their main reasons for not starting a business.

“The UK is a world leader in innovation, and if we are to maintain this in years to come we must inspire young people to gain the confidence to have a go,” said Ian Shott, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee.

“Entrepreneurial business leadership and management is not a prescriptive standalone set of skills but rather something where many entrepreneurs will benefit from excellent mentorship providing thoughtful and appropriate support along their journey.”

According to the research, young people are also much less likely than their older peers to say that persistence is important in turning an idea into a business success: 43% of those aged 45-54 and nearly half (49%) of over 55s believed this, compared to just 27% of young people. When young engineers were asked what might help encourage them to turn ideas into innovations and businesses, 41% said they lacked key business skills and 31% highlighted a need for advice on protecting their ideas. Set up in 2013, the RAEng Enterprise Hub’s Launchpad Competition was set up in an effort to help address some of these issues.

“The Launchpad competition is just one of the ways in which the Enterprise Hub has a positive impact on young entrepreneurs, providing them with valuable connections and mentoring alongside the access to finance that can be so important when making the leap from idea to innovation,” said Shott.