Smith, Kelly and Beasley, Martin (2011) Graduate Entrepreneurs: Intentions, Barriers & Solutions. Education + Training, 53 (8/9). pp. 722-740. ISSN 0040-0912

This paper investigates the factors that influenced seven graduates in the creative and digital industries to start their own businesses in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK - an area with lack of employing establishments and locally registered businesses.

Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews identified the constraining and enabling factors graduates may encounter when attempting to start a business, and explored the impact of support provided.

Perceived constraining factors were: lack of general business knowledge, contradictory advisory support from external agencies, lack of sector-specific mentors, lack of finance, and experience of familial entrepreneurship. Perceived enabling factors were: co-mentoring from business partners, course content, financial gain, creativity and innovative ideas, control and risk taking, and the overarching package of support. Linkages between internal and external support could be improved.

Research limitations/implications
The study provided insights into constraints and enablers to self-employment for a small cohort of recent graduates looking to start-up in the creative and digital industries. Further studies are required to explore the suggested effect of the ‘creative identity’, and of sector-specific family entrepreneurial background.

Practical implications
The support provided by universities can facilitate the transition from early stage ideas to actual graduate business start-up. Issues such as provision of specialist advice and links with external parallel and follow-on support need to be considered.

University start-up units provide an important contribution to the development of graduate entrepreneurs and their role in the growth of national and global economy. Suggestions for improvements in performance, such as closer links with external business development agencies and support providers, are discussed.

Keywords Student and graduate business start-up, Regeneration, Entrepreneurship education

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