Almost a third of British entrepreneurs have started their own business by the age of 30

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British entrepreneurs are likely to leave school at or before the age of 18 according to research into the motivations and educational backgrounds of UK entrepreneurs carried out by Sage.

A quarter (26%) of those surveyed in the report left school at 16, with more than half (51%) choosing to leave by the age of 18. By the age of 30, almost a third (31%) had started their own business. The figures suggest that those with an entrepreneurial spirit favour real world experience over higher education.

English (64%) and maths (63%) were cited as the most useful areas to be skilled in for running a business according to Britain’s business leaders, although digital skills have taken precedent in recent government agendas.

Only 19% regarded IT and computer science as an important skill, although respondents stated that business studies (29%) and IT and computer sciences (26%) would have been the most useful in retrospect.

The report highlighted some interesting generational gaps between entrepreneurs with regards to technology – with 41% of those aged 18-34 saying they found IT and computer science to be currently the most useful subject, compared to just 11% of respondents over the age of 55.

Responding to the question of what their biggest motivation for starting a business was, 46% cited a desire to work for themselves, while 28% said a lack of employment or change in circumstance was a defining factor. Only 11% stated a desire to make more money was a key motivation.

As well as working for themselves, 82% revealed that the autonomy to make their own decisions was what they most enjoyed about running a business, with 63% citing the better work life balance granted by self employment. Elsewhere, 38% enjoyed the creative freedom.

Additionally, the research revealed that 67% had set up only one business, with 71% still running the business they first started. Just 9% had moved city or town to improve their chances of success.

Managing director of the start-up and small business division at Sage, Lee Perkins,  said: “Britain has always been a nation where entrepreneurs have been able to thrive.

“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.”