Graduates rate skills over qualifications for entrepreneurial success

University leavers put personal skills ahead of academic success as predictors of entrepreneurial success, according to a new survey.

The research, from small business insurer Hiscox, questioned 1,000 students graduating in 2010/11 and found that only 1% believe that qualifications are the most important factor when thinking about setting up a business. Instead they rate creative thinking (40%), the ability to network (38%) and risk-taking (28%) as the key attributes of successful entrepreneurs.

According to the study, IT and computing students are most likely to become entrepreneurs (38%), followed by business management students (27%). It also showed that those studying core subjects, such as maths (20%) and science (15%), are less likely to set up their own business.

London students are the most likely to run their own company. Four in 10 of them have set up, or have been in the process of setting up, a business while at university. Other cities fostering entrepreneurial students include Hull (36%), Glasgow (32%), Cardiff (22%) and Newcastle (21%).

Respondents named Sir Richard Branson as the most inspirational entrepreneur globally.

John Heaney, SME expert at Hiscox, said: “The research shows an interesting perspective on the business world from the UK’s next generation of entrepreneurs. The students are right to recognise the importance of skills like creativity and networking for business success. Together with the knowledge gained from studying and on-the-job experience, they are invaluable to aspiring entrepreneurs.

“It’s clear that the cities surveyed are full of enterprising students optimistic about their future careers in business, which is great for the future of UK entrepreneurship.”

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