Did you know that young Brits no longer consider the likes of Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson as their entrepreneurial role models? According to new research from NatWest*, Gen Z’s entrepreneurial role models consist of new ‘modern business icons’ including music, sports and reality stars such as Rihanna, David Beckham and the Kardashians.


Who’s made the top global list and why?

The Top 10 Global Modern Business Icons according to Brits aged 18-30 are:

1.       Rihanna – Multi-award winning singer, actress and businesswoman. Owner of cosmetics company Fenty Beauty and popular lingerie brand Savage X Fenty

2.       Beyoncé – Superstar singer and actress who is also founder of Parkwood Entertainment, co-owner of music streaming service Tidal and owner of athleisure clothing line Ivy Park

3.       Marcus Rashford – Professional footballer known for using his platform to drive positive societal change and author of non-fiction motivational children's book ‘You Are A Champion’, which won Book of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2022

4.       Molly-Mae Hague – Social media influencer who, since being runner-up in the fifth series of Love Island, has collaborated on fashion collections with PrettyLittleThing and became their creative director in 2021, as well as launching self-tanning range Filter by Molly Mae

5.       David Beckham – Former professional footballer, current president and co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City. He also has a lucrative branding business which covers sales of fragrances, watches and clothing

6.       Kylie Jenner – Media personality, businesswoman and the founder and owner of cosmetic company Kylie Cosmetics. In 2019, Forbes named her the world's youngest self-made billionaire at age 21 and she is currently the most-followed woman and the second most-followed person on Instagram

7.       Kim Kardashian – Socialite, media personality and businesswoman – and older sister to Kylie Jenner. In 2017, she founded KKW Beauty and KKW Fragrance and in 2019 launched shapewear company Skims

8.       Elon Musk – Business magnate and investor, he is the founder, Chairman, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX and angel investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc. He also co-founded online bank X.com, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to form PayPal - which was bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion

9.       Ryan Reynolds – Actor and businessman, he started the production company Maximum Effort in 2018 which has created ads for a number of his film projects and brands such as Peloton. He acquired a stake in Aviation American Gin in 2018, later sold to Diageo for $610 million, as well as having an ownership stake in Mint Mobile and Welsh football club Wrexham AFC

10.   KSI – YouTuber and rapper, KSI is the CEO of Misfits Boxing and the co-owner of Prime Hydration, XIX Vodka and restaurant chain Sides

Who’s made the top UK list?

Fitness and entrepreneurial icons such as Joe Wickes and Steven Bartlett feature in the Top 10 UK Modern Business Icons list according to Brits aged 18-30, which you can see below:

Key takeaways about the next generation of business leaders from NatWest’s research

  • Over four in ten (44%) of young Brits consider themselves entrepreneurial – mirrored by 44% having 2 or more jobs, with more than half (54%) already having run or currently running their own business or side hustle.
  • Nearly half (47%) of young Brits are currently planning to start a new business in response to the cost-of-living crisis. But the main concerns around starting a company are high start-up costs (46%) lack of knowledge and business know-how (41%) and worries over the amount of competition (38%). 
  • Top businesses or side hustles owned by those under 30 include being a social media influencer (23%) and designing and selling clothing and accessories (21%).
  • 18% of those who would like to run their own venture in future admit they wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to starting a business, with 73% saying that they should be taught about running a business as a core subject at school

*Study of 2,000 Brits aged 18 – 30 years old commissioned by NatWest via OnePoll, October 2022.

Find out more about this research from our press release

Including views from Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur and the youngest dragon on Dragon’s Den, and Andrew Harrison, Head of Business Banking at NatWest:


View press release

scroll to top