For the last two weeks, young people across Wales have been finding out their A-level and GCSE results.
With the percentage of pupils gaining an A* or A rising across both A-levels and GCSEs to 23.3% and 19.4% respectively, for many results days have been a time of real euphoria.
Yet for others, there have been moments of despair when the results that they’d hoped for haven’t been achieved.
Not getting the results you expect can seem like a disaster, but if you browse the Sunday Times Rich List, you’ll find a bevy of British billionaires and millionaires who have no A-levels or a degree.
One of the UK’s most high profile billionaires, Sir Richard Branson, famously left school with ‘no qualifications’.
Branson quit school at 15 after struggling with severe dyslexia. He then set up the Virgin empire which today has over 400 operations including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Money, Virgin Media and Virgin Trains.
Not having top exams marks hasn’t stopped Branson, who has been knighted for advances in business and is a worth a whopping £3.6bn.
In a blog post on exams, he advises those not getting the results they’d hoped for to “Forget exam results (everybody else does sooner or later!).”
Another notable entrepreneur who has built a successful business without an A-level to his name is Sir Philip Green, who left school at 15 to set up a shoe importing company.
Today, he’s worth an impressive £3.8bn thanks to his global empire Arcadia Group of 3000 shops, including retail giants like Topshop, BHS and Dorothy Perkins.
Joining him are Lord Alan Sugar whose one GCSE hasn’t stopped him amassing a £900m personal fortune and music mogul Simon Cowell who despite only achieving three O levels (GCSEs) is worth £300m.
You only need to look at these inspirational entrepreneurs to see that success in exams has little bearing on success in business.
To succeed as an entrepreneur you don’t need qualifications. You do, however, need a good dose of passion, persistence, energy and determination. Skill and tenacity are big factors and luck also plays a big part.
As long as you can keep picking yourself up when you get knocked down, try different things and keep learning, the odds of business success are in your favour.
Exams don’t suit everybody, young people should be empowered and encouraged to pursue their dreams whether it’s going to college, university of setting up in business.
We are moving into an age of entrepreneurship. The internet has changed everything, the market has never been more accessible. Private business is the powerhouse of our economy, creating more than two million jobs since 2010.
The message must be that regardless of qualifications entrepreneurship truly is a realistic choice for today’s young people.
An entrepreneurial spirit needs to be instilled from a young age, along with a ‘can do’ attitude.
Young people need to learn to take risks and not be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life, especially in business. The key is to learn from it.
As Branson points out “if you have the desire to succeed, not having a piece of paper with A, B or C written on it isn’t going to hold you back.”
My advice for those young people who didn’t get the results they hoped for is to find your passion, find an idea, go after it with all you have and don't listen to the people who tell you are mad. And if it doesn't work, well then at least you tried, and learned something along the way.
James Taylor is founder and CEO of SuperStars (www.super-stars.org.uk) and chair of the Welsh Government’s Entrepreneurship Panel for Wales. Follow him on twitter @jamestaylor_SS