AXA UK research shows 60% of young people want to be their own boss by the age of 30

3 April 2024

Posted in Surveys and reports

  • A poll by AXA UK to mark the launch of this year’s AXA Startup Angel competition found six out of 10 young adults plan to be their own boss by the age of 30
  • Fear of failure, a lack of confidence and money were cited as the main obstacles to starting a small business
  • 64 per cent of those surveyed agreed that working hard was the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur

New research, The Startup Angel Report 2024, by AXA UK shows that six in 10 young adults plan to be their own boss by the age of 30, with many already taking steps towards starting their own business.

A poll of 2,000 adults was conducted to mark the launch of this year’s AXA Startup Angel competition, which awards two £25,000 top prizes to budding entrepreneurs. The study found that 63 per cent of those in the Gen Z age group (born after 1996) have tried their hand at a side hustle or small business venture.

Many have already put plans in place, with 22 per cent looking to become their own boss within the next 12 months, and 13 per cent considering making a move in one or two years’ time. Jobs in food and drink (22 per cent), entertainment (19 per cent) and fashion (18 per cent) are the most appealing sectors for this age group.

Being your own boss can give you freedom, but it also requires a huge amount of hard work,   passion and dedication. It’s fantastic to see there’s a new wave of would-be entrepreneurs who are relying on enthusiasm to compensate for their lack of entrepreneurial experience. We’re keen to support them on their journey because we know that running your own business can feel like an uphill struggle at times.

Deepak Soni, Director of Small Business Insurance at AXA UK
Headshot of Deepak Soni, Director of SME Business Insurance, AXA UK

The research also examined the attitudes towards entrepreneurship of older generations too, with Millennials (aged 28-43) also keen to be their own boss. More than a third (37 per cent) said they would like to start their own business or side hustle at some point.

Of those in Generation X (44-59), 26 per cent are keen to go it alone in business while only eight per cent of Boomers (60-69) want to take the plunge.

The motivating factors behind wanting to start a business or side hustle varied greatly depending on age.

The older generations of Generation X and Boomers value being their own boss (45 and 44 per cent respectively) as the most important factor, while the younger demographic of Gen Z favoured personal growth (35 per cent) and following a passion (38 per cent).

In an ever-changing job market, 31 per cent of Gen Z believe being their own boss would give them security – far more so than older generations (just 10 per cent for Gen X and nine per cent for Boomers). Both Millennials and Gen Z were more selfless in their outlook to starting a business too, with helping their local community (21 per cent and 16 per cent respectively) being a driving factor.

The barriers stopping those surveyed from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship also varied greatly.

Gen Z-ers cited a fear of failure (42 per cent) and lack of confidence (40 per cent) as obstacles – while just nine per cent of Boomers flagged failure as a concern stopping them.

Across all age groups, a lack of money was the most common denominator stopping people from ditching their day job (29 per cent), with personal savings (47 per cent) and small business loans (21 per cent) considered the finance options of choice.

Being a hard worker (64 per cent), innovative thinking (53 per cent) and having a long-term vision (47 per cent) were the three most important characteristics, according to the research carried out via

It’s fascinating to lift the lid on the mindsets of would-be entrepreneurs across different age groups. There’s a whole host of motivating factors for becoming your own boss, as well as various issues that can hold you back.

Money is an obstacle for many, but having someone to mentor and guide you through uncharted territory can offer the reassurance that you’re on the right track. The AXA Startup Angel competition offers a financial boost plus expert mentoring to get an entrepreneur on the road to success.

Deepak Soni
Headshot of Deepak Soni, Director of SME Business Insurance, AXA UK

Following the poll, AXA created The Startup Angel Report 2024 with advice and inspiration from the AXA Startup Angels – leading UK entrepreneurs who act as mentors for the competition winners.