Business

Aussie students an entrepreneurial bunch

A recent survey taken by university students around the world has found more Australian students want to be their own boss after graduating compared to the global average.

The 2014 Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Student Survey found that 35 per cent of Australian students want to found their own firm within five years after graduating from university.

Globally, an average of 30 per cent of students gave the same answer, ranking the results of Australian students above average.

The survey is an international research project studying the intentions of university students after graduation.

Curtin University entrepreneurship lecturer Louis Geneste is one of two Australian representatives involved in the survey.

Dr Geneste said Curtin University alongside a long list of other universities had worked with the University of St Gallen in Switzerland to gather information and produce the survey results.

“It’s the first time in a number of years that we’ve been able to get data [about entrepreneurial intentions] anywhere in Australia,” he said.

“This is [only] the fourth time data has been collected.”

The survey revealed that 43 per cent of Australian social science students had “entrepreneurial intentions” after graduating from university, ranking them third in the world in this category.

Dr Geneste said he had noticed an increase in students from around Curtin University taking an interest in entrepreneurship courses.

“We are getting more and more students from other parts of the university studying our units which probably indicates a reality of life, that at some stage down the track they are going to be working for themselves,” he said.

The survey showed that nine per cent of surveyed Australian students are already entrepreneurs.

Dr Geneste said many students at Curtin set up their own business, and attend entrepreneurial courses on the side to give them guidance and insight.

“Interestingly we have students who, even when they are in the process of studying are already running their businesses or are in the process of starting up whilst they are doing their studies at Curtin,” he said.

“It’s not just a case of students waiting until they graduate.

“It’s a case of students learning as they go.”

Curtin business and law student Mitchell Hutchinson wants to found his own law or consultancy firm sometime after graduating.

He said there were a few reasons why students may aspire to be their own boss instead of being someone’s employee.

“In being your own boss you are able to dictate the way in which you work … [and] make business decisions in your best interests,” he said.

“When working for someone else, your interests may be overlooked.”

Mr Hutchinson said working hard while receiving low wages was another off-putting aspect of being an employee.

“Another appealing aspect [of being a boss] is that … the amount of effort you put into the business is far more proportionate to the amount of reward you receive for doing so,” he said.

While it is clear that interest in entrepreneurship is rising in universities, many young people are also succeeding as their own boss without pursuing a degree.

Perth entrepreneur Oliver McDonald started his own business, Oli Clothing, when just 18 years of age, after having given uni a go.

His hand-printed clothes, made out of his small studio in Mt Lawley, have shipped to countries including Switzerland and the United States.

Oli's business is becoming too big for his humble headquarters in Mt Lawley.

Mr McDonald’s business is becoming too big for his humble Mt Lawley HQ.

Mr McDonald said young people don’t need to go to university to successfully found their own business.

“You definitely don’t need a degree to be successful,” he said.

“You just have to be passionate … and just really care about what you do.”

Mr McDonald said he considered university as a backup to designing clothes, which had been his passion from a young age.

“The decision to officially start Oli Clothing at the age of 18 was really just because I thought ‘why not, I’m 18, what have I got to lose?’” he said.

“If it didn’t work out, I would just go back to university and pursue another career.

“But almost two years on, I’m so happy I started it sooner rather than later.”

Small business owner Chaz Van Der Donk set up his small electrical and air conditioning business Air Rush at 22, and runs the business on the side of his other work.

He saw starting up a business as something to give his qualification as an electrician some more focus.

“I was an electrician, but figured I should start up my own company,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to do so I thought I’d go into air conditioning.”

Mr Van Der Donk said any young person considering entrepreneurship should set up a business plan and do plenty of research before investing their money.

“It’s a lot more involved than people think to set up [a] business,” he said.

“It’s not easy.

“However, if you’ve got a name, a reputable company, and you have a good clientele and charge the right price then I don’t think it’s too hard to find work.”

Photography: Greta Jasiak

Categories: Business

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