Young entrepreneurs need to connect beyond their own countries

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When it comes to networking, Harry Hortyn urges you to cast your nets wide

Economic uncertainty and increasing competition for the best jobs are just two of the issues that have contributed to a rise in the number of young people taking the plunge into self-employment in recent years.

According to one survey of students and new graduates, over half (56 per cent) of respondents said they were considering setting up their own business instead of getting on the corporate career ladder. This equates to 1.2 million people.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Solopress survey was that 45 per cent of respondents thought setting up a business while studying is harder now than it has been for previous generations. And 57 per cent indicated that the issue lies not only in getting funding but support too.

So, how can the business owners of today and tomorrow improve their chances of business success?

Create your global network

Having a network of contacts, they can call upon to solve problems and fuel growth is now a crucial part of business and career success for many current (and future) business leaders. Maybe it always has been. But with business today increasingly being conducted on the global stage, the network you create needs to reflect this international dimension.

As Hilden Allgaier from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School explains: “Having a network of contacts in your home country is no longer enough to open all the doors to a successful career. Businesses are global, so future entrepreneurs need to connect with people beyond their own countries.”

This summer Gareth Southgate showed the importance of thinking beyond borders when he hired Australian psychologist Dr Pippa Grange to strengthen the players’ mental resilience – rather than opting for someone closer to home.

So, what are the options for fledgling and established entrepreneurs?

Explore opportunities

One route to success could be online. International business forums are a great place to find out about the experiences of others in launching a new venture. Sharing your passion with business leaders from around the world will help to build your knowledge and give you the chance to engage with like-minded people.

Meet-ups on holidays and trips to international conferences are another way to increase your address book too. And in my opinion, it’s never too early to start if you are still early in your career.

If nearly a third (32 per cent) of the students and recent graduates who responded to the survey said they had already considered starting a business in the first 12 months of entering university, so why not start building those contacts early on?

The ages between 16 and 25 are in fact a crucial time for young people to seek out opportunities to meet future business owners, tutors and students from across the globe who might just prove indispensable when it comes to helping you build any new business empire.

Many international students come to the UK and join one of the many educational development courses run in top universities over the summer.

Whether you are already up and running or perhaps in your first year of university and nurturing a kernel of an idea, new contacts made along the way could provide the firm foundations you need for future success. So, keep an open mind and cast your nets wide.

Harry Hortyn is co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses, the 80th fastest growing company in the UK in the FT1000 index