Time to think Differently to Support and Promote the EU’s Entrepreneurial Potential

Herbalife Nutrition's Andrew Trounce and MEP Radan Kanev share their views on how the EU can better support European entrepreneurs.

By Herbalife

20 Jun 2022


Global research reveals the optimum age to start a business and the results may surprise you, says Andrew Trounce, senior vice president for Europe and Africa at Herbalife Nutrition

When we think about entrepreneurs, we might imagine that they’re people who have been in the workforce for many years, honed their craft and then chosen to venture out independently. However, entrepreneurs are building businesses from a young age. In our survey([i]) of more than 25,000 people, aged 18 to 40, across 35 countries, they thought that the optimum age to start a business was just 28 years old.

This information may defy small business owner stereotypes. However, millennials have different attributes and expectations when it comes to work compared to previous generations and this may make setting out on their own an attractive and viable option.

Age. A barrier or opportunity?

Out of the respondents interested in starting a business in our survey, 51% globally (just under half in Europe), worry that they won't be taken seriously because of their age - but they also see their youth as a positive thing. Half of the global and European entrepreneurial hopefuls said their age would increase their chances of success.

A desire for entrepreneurship doesn’t mean respondents are jumping into it; the average respondent in Europe said they believe someone should have five years’ experience before starting their own business, just under the global average of five and half years. The difference between success and failure is often good business fundamentals, the willingness to learn and adapt, and a passion for your work.

“Harnessing the younger generations’ entrepreneurial spirit will drive a surge in micro and small businesses, which are the lifeblood of any thriving economy”

The perceived benefits of being your own boss

Nearly 75% of respondents globally in the survey, and 80% in Europe, reported that they dream of becoming an entrepreneur, underscoring how enticing the opportunity to be your own boss and the freedom to set your own hours can be. Herbalife Nutrition’s survey also revealed that 30% of Europeans view entrepreneurship as an opportunity for a career change.

The value of a supportive community

I always recommend to young entrepreneurs starting out on their own to surround themselves with a supportive community. I also encourage them to find ways to keep learning. That’s why our sponsorship of ‘Young Business Talents' in Spain is so important. This innovative online simulated business game lets students compete against each other as they run their own virtual companies. Such a creative approach to teaching business skills is encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit among students with the skills to boost their future career choices.

We’re proud to work with over six million wellness entrepreneurs from around the world - our Herbalife Nutrition independent distributors - who possess a passion for helping make their communities healthier through a healthy and active lifestyle. Harnessing the younger generations’ entrepreneurial spirit will drive a surge in micro and small businesses, which are the lifeblood of any thriving economy. That has to be good for all and something that should definitely be supported by governments and industry alike.

[i] Survey conducted on behalf of Herbalife Nutrition by OnePoll in 2021. Eleven European countries took part.

The challenging times we live in today require policymakers and entrepreneurs finding the balance between government intervention and market freedom, says Radan Kanev, a member of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee

We live in challenging times. And whereas this cliché – although true for more than a decade – started sounding rather boring lately, it is far too mild. Our economy is facing the consequences of the Covid pandemic and the anxiety it might not be fully over, a full-blown energy crisis, triggering an unprecedented wave of inflation and the first full-scale war in Europe in decades, involving the biggest energy resources provider and both biggest food producers on the continent, if not the world. On top of that, or rather as a fundamental and permanent pattern, the climate emergency, framing the overall European strategy on economy, energy, and labour market.

All these challenges require more and more market intervention at various levels. ECB monetary policies, EU budget and RRF, aggressive government support for large number of key sectors and extensive exceptions from state aid regulations, price caps on critical resources and regional and municipal level measures. To put it shortly, Big State is back, for good.

And yet neither national Big State nor the Union institutions provide us with the keys to the deadlock. It is our flexible and innovative business environment, centred around SMEs, IT professionals and digital services developers and providers, that gave us the opportunity to switch almost instantly to remote work solutions during Covid lockdowns, saved our restaurant businesses through delivery platforms and even helped performers stay afloat by organising remote concerts and exhibitions.

“Sustainable and independent food production and supply is also highly dependent on the work and inventiveness of family farmers and microbusinesses”

When it comes to energy, the biggest single issue, focusing on climate, inflation, and strategic challenges, once again we put our faith in the capacity for innovation of start-ups, science-business incubators, green-tech, and IT sectors to provide us with smart solutions for both energy production and energy efficiency as well as saving. And all these sectors, while counting on significant public financial support, mostly rely on freelancers and micro entrepreneurs to develop viable market solutions. Sustainable and independent food production and supply is also highly dependent on the work and inventiveness of family farmers and microbusinesses.

So here we stand, between Big State (and, indeed, Big Union) revival on one side, and the need to incentivise the smallest, most independent, and dynamic market players on the other side. Between unprecedented scale of public regulation, financing and intervention on the markets and the need to give even more freedom to entrepreneurs in all sectors and provide more flexibility on the labour market, in order to attract and engage the brightest minds from green-tech to green agriculture, who will hardly abide to XX-century “nine-to-five” labour code. Finding the right balance is a titanic political task, and by its success we will measure political leadership in the years to come.

This content was commissioned by Herbalife and produced by Dods Impact

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