• New research reveals the most influential entrepreneurial icons of the modern age according to young Brits aged 18-30, including Beyoncé, Kylie Jenner, David Beckham and Kim Kardashian
  • Influencer and social media stars KSI and Molly-Mae Hague also feature among the ‘modern business icons’ which inspire ambition and drive in young people today
  • Brits featuring in the global top 20 most influential modern business icons include Marcus Rashford (#3), Molly-Mae Hague (#4), David Beckham (#5), KSI (#10), Joe Wicks (#13) and Zoe ‘Zoella’ Sugg (#16).
  • Research by NatWest reveals 64% of 18 – 30-year-olds want to be an entrepreneur or run their own business in the future – with the main reasons being wanting to make a lot of money (40%), having more control over their work/life balance (39%) and the cost-of-living crisis (38%)


Infographics available to download here: https://we.tl/t-NsrlV9bnL3


9th November 2022: New research reveals young Brits no longer consider the likes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos as their entrepreneurial role models, instead replacing them for new ‘modern business icons’ including music, sports and reality stars such as Rihanna, David Beckham and the Kardashians.

The next generation of business leaders find Rihanna (24%), Beyonce (23%) and Marcus Rashford (21%) as the most inspirational business icons across the globe, a survey commissioned by NatWest of 2,000 18 – 30 year old Brits has found.

Over half (52%) of Gen Z Brits (aged 18-25) consider these ‘modern business icons’ more inspirational than the likes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

Molly-Mae Hague (21%), David Beckham (19%) and Kylie Jenner (19%) are also listed among the top entrepreneurs of today who inspire young Brits, who say they see a modern business icon as ‘relatable’ (31%), ‘stylish’ (29%) and ‘hard-working’ (28%).


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



The global most influential modern business icons featured several notable British names including Marcus Rashford, who appeared third on the list, Molly-Mae Hague (#4), David Beckham (#5), KSI (#10), Joe Wicks (#13) and Zoe ‘Zoella’ Sugg (#16), Rio Ferdinand (#20) and Steven Bartlett (#21).

The survey, commissioned by NatWest, one of the biggest supporters of UK small business, found that 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.

From music artist and businesswoman Beyoncé to socialite reality stars and multi-business owners such as the Kardashian/Jenner clan, the role models and career aspirations of young Brits have evolved post-pandemic and amid the current cost-of-living crisis.

The research reveals that nearly half (47%) of young Brits are currently planning to start a new business in response to the cost-of-living crisis, however 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%). 

Values that make today’s modern business icons more inspiring and relatable to young people include being active on social media (44%), their journey being more openly documented (42%), their product or business being something that young people are interested in (42%) and being a similar age (36%).

The top businesses or side hustles owned by those under 30 include social media (23%) and designing and selling clothing and accessories (21%). The survey further revealed young Brits entering the gig economy have been aided by the power of influence and connectivity online, with nearly half using Instagram (49%) to sell their product, as well as Facebook (38%) and TikTok (33%). 

If they were to start a business, 31% would look to become an influencer, 26% would try selling items online, and 24% would make extra cash by baking or cooking.

Although 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.


Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur and the youngest dragon on Dragon’s Den, who featured at number 9 of the UK most influential list and 21st on the global list, said: “Starting up a business is hard work - it's so important to find those you can draw inspiration from, both in and out of your industry, to keep you motivated to succeed. There are lots of positive role models the next generation of entrepreneurs can look up to, from music artists to sports stars, who are relatable figures in business with less traditional career paths, each of which show us something different about how to achieve your dreams.”


Andrew Harrison, Head of Business Banking at NatWest said: “Our Modern Business Icons list demonstrates the importance of young, relatable role models in influencing and inspiring the young start-up founders and small business owners of the future. It’s great to see a generation with a thriving entrepreneurial spirit and I’m excited to see what the young people of today can do, to achieve a better tomorrow. From our Dream Bigger programme in schools, Business Builder for early-stage entrepreneurs, to our Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs around the country for high growth, green and diverse businesses, we want to help more businesses start, scale and succeed.”


The research was commissioned to celebrate NatWest’s Backing Business campaign alongside ITV and Alison Hammond. NatWest has a long history of supporting business to start and grow through their nationwide Accelerator Hubs, Business Builder and Local Enterprise Managers based across the UK to support SME businesses.




*Source: NatWest and Aston University’s September 2022 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.


For more information, please contact Taylor Herring:

Francesca Holden – francesca.holden@taylorherring.com

Kirsty Woods – kirsty.woods@taylorherring.com


Notes to Editors 

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


About NatWest   
NatWest serves customers in England and Wales, supporting them with their personal, private, and business banking needs. NatWest helps customers at all stages in their lives, from opening student accounts, to buying their first home, setting up a business, and saving for retirement.


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