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Record number of Gen Z plan to set up their own business in 2021

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
COVID-19 has "forced many young people to re-evaluate their futures and become their own boss," a report noted. Photo: Getty Images
COVID-19 has 'forced many young people to re-evaluate their futures and become their own boss,' a report found. Photo: Getty

One in seven young people aged 18 to 24 are planning to set up their own business in 2021, new data has revealed.

If they go ahead with these plans, this would result in a “record-busting” 800,000 new Gen Z businesses this year, a report commissioned by Mushroombiz, which provides support to SMEs, found.

Between 2018 and 2019, 390,000 businesses were started in the UK across all age groups.

“As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the UK economy, the country’s young people are taking matters into their own hands,” said the report, which surveyed over 2,000 Brits.

Mushroombiz managing director Ed Surman added that Generation Z, those born in the mid-to-late 1990s, are “leaving school and university and rejecting the shrinking job market to take back control of their futures from COVID-19.”

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the UK unemployment rate will peak at 7.5% in the middle of 2021, representing about 2.6 million people out of work and up from around 4% before the pandemic struck.

Surman noted that “this reality has forced many young people to re-evaluate their futures and become their own boss.”

READ MORE: Average London house price passes £500,000

He says the poll backs up what he has already seen: “a huge uptick in the number of tech start-ups, passion projects and side hustles started in university dorm rooms in the latter half of 2020.”

This is backed by recent research from student accommodation search engine which found students are making good money on social media platform TikTok.

Dan Roberts, founder of, said that due to the pandemic, many traditional jobs are off the cards, and the increasing popularity of TikTok has meant “students can not only meet and engage with other students through relatable content about their lives in lockdown, but make money from it, too.”

Meanwhile, as people adjusted to the “new normal” of the pandemic, the number of new companies being created in the UK compared with 2019 soared in the second half of 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

July 2020 set a new record with more than 81,000 businesses registered in the UK.

Mushroombiz’s poll also revealed that 13% of Brits would start their own business if they had more spare time, while 20% would become their own boss if they had more money.

The poll shows that across all age groups, twice as many men (9%) as women (4%) plan to start their own business this year, while over one fifth of Londoners (21%) plan to do so.

READ MORE: Quarter of UK students have had to 'sell possessions' to survive financially

The news comes in spite of underlying concerns for the UK economy, with the poll revealing a majority of Brits (57%) are not confident in the country’s economic prospects for 2021, and 45% not confident in it over the next five years.

A report from November found that almost one in four UK university students have had to sell possessions to manage their finances during the pandemic.

It also found that a quarter of students have lost a job or income and almost four in five are worried about their graduate job prospects.

And the ONS also said last year that Generation Z have been among the worst hit in the jobs market by the pandemic.

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