Talent investor Entrepreneur First recently released the results of a global study investigating the perceptions towards ambition and motivations for entrepreneurship amongst Generation Z individuals (18-to 30-year-olds). Conducted in six markets – Singapore, the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Hong Kong and India – the survey found that many respondents hold positive views of entrepreneurship and relate to the values of entrepreneurs, but are held back by obstacles such as a fear of potential financial loss and a perceived lack of access to capital.
Singapore’s Generation Z is ambitious about entrepreneurship
In line with Singapore’s reputation as a dynamic hub for business and innovation, Singaporeans are enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and building companies. Slightly over half of the young Singaporeans surveyed shared that they were likely to set up their own company (55.3 percent) – ahead of those in the UK (41.9 percent), France (48.9 percent) and Germany (35.5 percent), but behind India (81.7 percent%). Respondents in Hong Kong echoed similar ambitions to those in Singapore, with 59 percent saying that they are likely to set up their own company.
Even more Singaporeans (60.2 percent) agree that setting up their own company is the best way to realise their professional ambitions. Close to half (41.7 percent) also believe that startups and new companies backed by new ideas and concepts have a greater propensity to change the world for the better, as compared to established, large companies (30.1 percent) or the government (15 percent).
Linked to this interest in entrepreneurship are attitudes toward careers typically associated with ambitious and talented people. Singapore respondents ranked entrepreneurs as the top profession associated with talent and ambition, followed by investors and venture capitalists, and professionals in the medical and healthcare sector. In contrast, those in Hong Kong ranked professionals in the medical and healthcare, and creative and performing arts fields, as well as scientists as the most ambitious.
While six in ten Singaporeans say they relate to the values of entrepreneurship, only a third (37.9 percent) could identify an entrepreneur role model. Those that did cited Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Jack Ma as popular examples. This stood in contrast to India where almost three in five (58.9 percent) had a role model they could identify with.
However, an aversion to risks and uncertainty remains a major obstacle
Despite a growing interest and enthusiasm towards entrepreneurship, the majority of young Singaporeans still adopt a pragmatic approach when considering decisions around life and career ambitions.
When discussing factors that could hold them back, four out of ten (40.4 percent) cited concerns around the potential for financial loss as the biggest concern, followed by the fear of a lack of stability (37 percent). Other factors included a perceived lack of access to capital (35.5 percent), uncertainty about knowing how to pursue their ambitions (34.7 percent), as well as a fear of failure (33.5 percent).
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Young Singaporeans want to create impact and build legacies
Despite kiasu-ism being commonly associated with Singapore’s national identity, many young Singaporeans choose benevolent aspirations over wealth accumulation or career success when it comes to legacy building. One in six Singaporeans (16.7 percent) said they would like to create something that would change the world for the better, while 13.6 percent want to create something of value for others. In contrast, 14.2 percent aimed to be a millionaire or billionaire.
Building on this desire to create impact, many younger Singaporeans (67.2 percent) also view themselves as more ambitious than older generations from an entrepreneurship perspective, reflecting a generational shift in attitudes towards ambition. This was a sentiment that was also echoed across all six markets, with almost three-quarters of respondents (74.4 percent; the highest) in India believing that they are more ambitious than the previous generation.
Overall, Generation Z Singaporeans expressed an overall positive outlook towards realising their potential in the future, despite some of the perceived challenges. Seven in ten respondents believe that they will achieve or exceed their ambitions for life. Similarly, 67.6 percent believe that they would be able to accomplish the same in their careers.
“A top-notch education system and business ecosystem have long made Singapore a magnet for some of the world’s most ambitious individuals. At Entrepreneur First, we don’t believe that everyone should be a founder, but we do believe the most ambitious and talented individuals should explore this as a career path. This shift is vital if Singapore is to create a world-class startup ecosystem.
Over the last four years in Singapore, we have worked with more than 400 world-class entrepreneurs who display Singapore’s famed competitiveness with an emerging motivation to create an impact on the world.” said Alice Bentinck, Co-founder, CPO, Entrepreneur First.
“Our experience, alongside this research, shows that Singapore could be home to some of the world’s best founders and a place where game-changing companies can be built. This shift has already begun with companies such as Transcelestial Technologies and FireVisor, which are becoming role models and paving the way for other ambitious individuals to start their own companies.”
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