From the top · 7 December 2015

The small business advent calendar: 7 December – Another day, more entrepreneurial inspiration

Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day
Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day

Door seven in our small business advent calendar opens to reveal a snippet of insight into what inspires entrepreneurs.

Research from Barclays published in January found that some seven per cent of British small business owners were motivated in their entrepreneurial ambitions by a childhood dream – with the figure rising to more than one tenth of female owner-managers.

The next generation of children harbouring entrepreneurial hopes are certainly not short of inspiration. Many of the most successful business leaders today didn’t wait until they were adults to harness their commercial ambitions – King chairman Melvyn Morris started a property company as soon as he left school, and Richard Branson started a student publication at 16.

Branson told the Telegraph in 2014: “I started Virgin with less than £5, with just enough coins to work in the school phone box to sell enough advertising for my magazine. I was quite motivated I suppose. The Vietnam War was going on and I wanted to start a magazine to campaign against it. I had to become an entrepreneur by default for the magazine to survive.”

Some of today’s most promising founders are even younger. Ben Towers founded digital media agency Towers Design when he was 11, and now has over 700 customers – while 14 year-olds Sean Spooner and Louis Porter became the world’s youngest publishers in 2010 when they launched their first print magazine, and have since founded online title Magnate. And previous winners of the annual Tenner competition (organised by Young Enterprise) have, in previous years, taken a £10 investment and turned it into thousands of pounds – with the youngest participants just 11 years old.

If that wasn’t enough to galvanise an entrepreneurial spirit, there is certainly no shortage of business inspiration in some of the most famous children’s books – from Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka to Billy Sure, Kid Entrepreneur.

And with the “My First Startup” Kickstarter campaign that Business Advice featured in August now fully funded and preparing to deliver the first batch of inspirational business comics in time for Christmas, the number of children inspired to start their own firms in the future only looks set to increase further.

Don’t miss the next instalment of small business Christmas cheer – check back tomorrow to see what’s behind the next door.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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