New Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College graduate Wang Peng still remembers the concerns he had when he wanted to start his own business on campus.
“I had no money, no experience, no idea what I could do and what I needed to do,” Wang said. “I was worried whether I would actually earn money or just keep losing it.”
Wang got through the anxiety by following suggestions from peers who were also eager to start businesses. Now he runs an e-commerce company with eight employees in Jiangsu province. When he graduated in June, the annual sales of his company had passed 1 million yuan ($162,500).
“My story is very ordinary. A lot of students shared my anxiety when they began thinking about starting their own business,” said Wang. “A lot of people can be gripped by the fear of failure.”
Only 1 percent of graduates choose to start a business, but the percentage of those who do so a few years after graduation was a bit higher, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
The main thing holding young people back was family pressure. In a China Youth Daily survey in July, 64.7 percent of respondents said fear of monetary loss was the main reason parents don’t support their children in starting a business.
The ministry is trying to support graduates by offering funds and consulting services for learning about business strategy and government policies.
Vice-Minister Xin Changxing said China will start a program to help more than 800,000 graduates start businesses from this year to 2017.
“After the businesses are successfully started, governments have to follow their growth and offer further guidance and service,” said Xin. “We need to raise the rate of startups as well as their lasting time.”
Jia Shaohua, vice-president of Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College, said the campus atmosphere in most domestic universities does not encourage students to start their own business.
“Universities tend to lock students in classrooms by pushing them to focus on classes and examinations,” said Jia. “The ability of starting a business cannot be learned in a classroom. Students need to explore by themselves.”
“And successful examples are needed to motivate them,” he said.
Now, among the 2,500 graduates of the college every year, there are 400 small-business owners, said Jia. The vocational college offers a special school to help them conduct business at the beginning of their campus life.
Diversified support is offered in such areas as logistics, cross-border e-commerce and the operation of portal websites for online shops.
However, a lack of experience and people networking can pose a formidable obstacle.
“There are a lot of stories of successful young startups, but in real life the failure rate is very high,” said Mai Gang, founder of VenturesLab and an angel investor. “I think young people should really think about whether they are fit for this career.”
“They usually don’t have enough understanding of the risk,” said Yuan Yue, CEO of Feimalv, which offers startup support programs. “If you have a job, you won’t go bankrupt; if you start your own business, you could go bankrupt very easily.”
Yang Qiuping, general manager of Fudan Software Park, suggested that students finish their studies first, especially those from rural areas.
“Students can start after graduation; it is not urgent,” said Yang. “In China, I think a diploma still matters.”