23 September 2008

A new breed of adolescent is gracing England’s green and pleasant land – the teenage entrepreneur.

Typically technology-savvy, the teenager you thought was simply chatting over MSN or adding to an already buckling Bebo account may well be using the internet to far greater effect. Astoundingly, in 2007, 43 per cent of teenagers used the internet to make money online.

“Big deal,” you might exclaim. “Anybody can sell on eBay!”

But bear in mind that 22 per cent of those teenagers actually set up an online business. And over four fifths of these young tycoons do it from their parents’ homes. No overheads, no rent, no leaving the house – just pure profit. It beats a paper round, that’s for sure.

As a youngster, back in the dark ages, I would have killed for a platform like the internet from which to do business. I made my extra cash as a very young entrepreneur setting up unofficial tuck shops. Then as I grew older my stock became more and more varied. I sold anything I could get my hands on; sunglasses at one point, T-shirts the next.

My teenage self was daring, bold and unaffected by the rules of business; something which I have taken into my adult career. The beauty of the young mind is that it is completely unhindered by boundaries. Teenagers “think outside of the box” simply because they’re not aware “the box” exists. However, the platform I was able to work from and products I could offer at such a tender age were restrictive. The internet changes everything.

Unfettered are the youth of today. They can source pens from China for 5p a bushel and distribute from a website where they never need disclose their age or identity. They have a technical know-how which probably exceeds many of their adult counterparts. And they have the luxury of time.

Encouraging Britain’s young business minds, especially in the current economical climate, is something companies and educational institutions alike should be embarking upon. We need to take the brightest sparks, cultivate the freshest ideas and look to the next generation of entrepreneurs for inspiration.

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