The Female Lead

Why we should learn to embrace failure

Understanding the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Forget the stereotype of the snowflake, smart-phone obsessed millennials – new research has found that young Brits could actually be the most entrepreneurial generation of recent history.

A study of the attitudes of 14-25-year-olds revealed that over half of young people have thought about or have started a business with their top motivations being ‘to be one’s own boss’ or to have the ‘freedom to do what I want’.

The poll of 1,549 young people by Entrepreneurs Network (Ten), and financial services firm Octopus Group, found that 11% of young men had tried to start a business, compared to 6% of women. Yet, men and women were similarly eager to do so (45% and 41%).


So why do fewer women choose to become entrepreneurs?

The research found that females are significantly more likely to say the ‘fear of failure’ prevents them from following their career aspirations and is a  barrier that would stop them moving forward with their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Even more so, research from American Express has found some 86% of millennials are afraid of failure, with 57% reporting that they have experienced imposter syndrome. The fear seems to be a frustratingly female trait as only 39% of women describe themselves as fearless, while 58% of men said the same.

Failure – or a fear of failure – shouldn’t hinder our careers. “We are all going to fail in our life, that’s a fact. Remember that even the most successful people fail”, said Elizbeth Day, journalist, podcaster and author of the immensely popular book ‘How to Fail’. Revealing failures is, according to Elizabeth, one of the most humanising things a person can do.

At The Female Lead, all of our inspiring icons share their stories of success and failure, to inspire and educate young people about the realities of the real world. All of the women have a story of past failure that they’re not afraid to share. Female Lead Icon and perfumer Jo Malone said ‘I’ve made hundreds of mistakes. Sometimes the business you failed at takes you on a journey to something far greater down the road”.


Failure is a part of the process. You just learn to pick yourself up. And the quicker and more resilient you become, the better you are - Michelle Obama

The research by Entrepreneurs Network and Octopus Group also found that 57% of young people couldn’t name an entrepreneur who inspires them. Lord Sugar was named as Britain’s most inspiring entrepreneur, closely followed by Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. It makes for a sobering read that of the inspirational entrepreneurs that were named, 85% were male while only 15% were female, with Kylie Jenner being the most commonly named female entrepreneur.

The findings above make a strong case for bringing more relatable role models into schools and universities and to share with girls that setbacks will make you stronger. That is why next month The Female Lead will be launching our new Schools Societies across the length and breadth of the UK.

The programme will share the stories of diverse role models, their successes and failures and how they deal with challenges in order to help girls develop resilience to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. 

“Failure is a part of the process. You just learn to pick yourself up. And the quicker and more resilient you become, the better you are.” – Michelle Obama.

Read the full Future Founders Report here

To sign up to The Female Lead Society, email [email protected]