By Max Clarke

The average age of small business owners has been declining since 2007 owing to a growing number of young entrepreneurs, according to a study of 160,000 small enterprises carried out by insurance brokers Simply Business.

Data collected between 2007 and 2010 showed a 6.5% increase in business owners aged 25-34. Fresh faced entrepreneurs lowering the mean age of the business owner include: James Murray Wells, who conceived of Glasses Direct when at college and has since guided it to a multimillion pound turnover; Chris Phillips, whose website catapulted him into the UK’s richest teens list; and Charlie Walker, the graduate whose recruitment company turned over £7million in 2010.

Regional changes to the entrepreneurial demographic were even more marked, the study shows, with London showing a 14% increase in business owners aged 34 and under; and Scotland and the North East an 11% increase. Nationally, the proportion of small businesses owned by 18-25 year olds has risen by 4%, although interestingly, Wales saw a 5% increase in this group.

“This data shows that young people are adapting to a challenging employment landscape by taking their destiny in to their own hands and starting a business,” said Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business.

“Last year David Willetts, the Universities Minister, suggested graduates were thinking more and more about a start-up as an alternative to a graduate scheme. Our data supports this view; it’s a really inspiring picture.”

“More recently we were pleased to see the Budget announcements taking steps to support our budding entrepreneurs. We’re encouraged by the introduction of a ‘regulation holiday’ for businesses in their early years, as new firms need nurture and support in their early years to help them go on to become successful businesses and employers of the future. Similarly the introduction of 21 Enterprise Zones also provides a real opportunity for encouraging start ups”