eBay for Small Business

University not the only path to business success, say online bosses

Setting up a business is a realistic alternative to a degree

With the cost of an average student loan expected to rise to over £36,000, students should consider starting their own business as an alternative to university, according to a survey of Britain’s leading online businesses.

According to the Online Business Index, the only survey of more than 600 online businesses, published by eBay UK, nearly half of online bosses (49%) believe that young people should consider setting up their own business after their A-levels instead of going to university.  A further 51% predict that online businesses will continue to flourish and that many young people would be better to establish their own business, rather than reading a degree.

The findings of the Online Business Index reveal that the majority (89%) of online bosses believe that a degree is no longer a guarantee of a job.  The findings also show that not having a degree is no barrier to success, particularly in the world of online business, where two-thirds of business owners never completed a degree.

Further results reveal:

·         57% believe that setting up an online business is a good choice of career for young people

·         71% of online firms see setting up an online business as a good way for young people to develop their business skills.

The findings come as Lord Browne publishes his independent review of higher education funding; recommending that the cap on University tuition fees be raised to £10,000 per year, triple the current limit. Together with maintenance costs, a £10,000 cap could see students racking up eye-watering debts of over £36,000 over the course of their degree.

Commenting on the findings, Jody Ford, Director of SME Businesses for eBay UK said:

“It is no surprise that with the cost of university set to rise, more and more young people are looking at their options.   These findings show that university isn’t the only place to acquire the skills to be a success.

“There’s no better way to learn how to run a business than by running a business. eBay is the UK’s number one e-commerce site and every single one of the 160,000 small businesses who sell via eBay benefit from low barriers to entry and access to 90 million users from across the globe.  Over the last two years – during the worst of the recession we’ve seen more than 25,000 take the plunge and set up their own business, while the number of million pound businesses on eBay has risen tenfold.”

“I’d encourage all young people to think about the options available to them.  While some young people may be accruing debts of £1000s in tuition fees, those who choose another path could find themselves making millions.”

Shaun Redhead, 28, didn’t go to university and started selling musical instruments online in 2007.  His online business now turns over in excess of £750,000 per year.  

Shaun comments:

“University plays a vital role for some, but it isn’t right for everyone. It can’t teach you everything you need to get on in the world, and the only way to really learn how to run a successful business is to do it yourself. I don’t feel that I missed out by not having a degree, and I don’t feel my business is any less successful as a result.

“Running a business isn’t easy, but my advice to young people would be that if you’ve got the a great idea and the drive and enthusiasm it can be a more rewarding option than going to university.”

Notes to Editors:

Note to editors

Methodology for Online Business Index

·         The Online Business Index is eBay’s regular barometer tracking the performance of companies trading on the internet, mapping the attitudes of hundreds of online firms operating on eBay.

·         It is based on a major survey of 605 online retailers.

·         The survey was conducted by independent research consultancy FreshMinds, using seller information provided by eBay. Survey fieldwork was carried out online between 1th and 22nd September 2010

·         Previous surveys were conducted in January, April and September 2009 and January 2010

·         On average, the businesses covered obtained 61% of their income from eBay, and 39% from other websites, including 7% from Amazon.

·         All survey respondents are registered as businesses on the eBay site and have an annual turnover of at least £68,000 on eBay alone, excluding other sources of income. The largest group of respondents (33%) were small businesses with a turnover between £100,000 and £199,000.   A quarter of the respondents have a turnover of over £500,000.

·         All figures in this report have been rounded to the nearest percentage point. As a result, figures may not always add up to 100%.