Young Entrepreneurs – Responsibility, Flexibility and Possibilities

Leena Haanpää & Simo Tuppurainen

(In Finnish: Nuoret yrittävät – Vastuullisuus, joustavuus ja mahdollisuudet yrittäjyydessä)

Young entrepreneurs are getting people talking in Finland. Business and especially growth entrepreneurship have turned into a national rescue programme in the midst of the current recession. This book will explore entrepreneurship from different angles through young peoples’ values, attitudes and experiences. The report is based on interviews with young entrepreneurs as well as international comparative data on the attitudes of young people towards entrepreneurship and socially responsible business. The unique comparative data consists of statistical data that has been collected in three very different countries – Finland, the U.S.A. and South Korea – and depicts young people’s attitudes, values and experiences of risk.

The empirical results that are reported in the book have been produced with the help of method triangulation, through which youth entrepreneurship is studied as both a qualitative and a statistical phenomenon. The work looks for answers to questions such as whether young people have the potential to create a new business model that would include socially responsible business practices. Despite society’s investments in private enterprises, young Finnish people still see it as an unattractive career choice. Is this in part caused by tedious organizational culture? On one hand young people have a strong faith in the opportunities presented by small-scale businesses and social responsibility, but on the other hand the results show young people’s conflicting attitudes to entrepreneurship. Their positive attitudes do not easily translate into practical business ventures.

The study presents cases of young entrepreneurs who have noticed a business opportunity and made things happen creatively and courageously within that framework. The case study shows that young people become entrepreneurs in areas that they already possess expertise in through hobbies or work. Entrepreneurship is felt by young people to be a worthwhile but time-consuming lifestyle. Young entrepreneurs have a surprisingly strong vision of responsible business practices. The study also offers concrete development suggestions for small, mediumsized and micro-businesses that were elicited through interviews with young entrepreneurs.

International statistical comparisons demonstrate how cultural background influences understanding of free entrepreneurship. Young Finns in particular value a climate of freedom and creativity, which can be regarded as important motivating factor that supports business activity. Young Finns also have a hidden entrepreneurial spirit which can in the best cases manifest as business activity if it is encouraged by an entrepreneurship -supporting network. Interviews reveal that entrepreneurs benefit from skills, experience and vision in their field of business. The study demonstrates that the societal conditions in Finland are in many ways favourable for private enterprise – to such an extent that safety and stability are taken for granted. There are also interesting results highlighting young people’s understanding of socially responsible business practices. The young people from the different cultures have a clearly positive attitude to socially responsible business.