1st November 2014
Having spent a day of my recent holiday reading through entries to the Great British Entrepreneur Awards Young entrepreneur category of which I am a judge this year, I was excited by the variety of business ideas and the sophistication with which they are being delivered. The caliber of entrant is beyond inspiring, varying from the school aged Henry for his children’s book and merchandise brand, to a genius white-labelled meat business, and marsh-mallows which charmed and tamed TV’s Dragons. The entrants are from all corners of the UK and all sections of society, but there was a significant number of this talented under thirties bunch, who emerged as employees of private equity firms and hedge funds. Young people who have learnt from the inside, what it takes to launch and secure investment in a start-up, and in the vast majority of cases have a hard earned yet glossy education which enabled that job opportunity in the first place. While this insight does not in any way detract from their accomplishment in launching what are some of the country’s most exciting young businesses, it struck me that this insight into the world of business prior to entrepreneurship, positioned them with a mighty head start.
Britain is bubbling with entrepreneurship today, and the beautiful thing is that the zest for business is rippling through all communities – not just the privileged for whom it has always been a given. The imbalance remains however in education and confidence, the elixir which pervades the private school sector and equips graduates with assertiveness in their step and a sense of entitlement and direction as their compass. Success for me, is much more about setting and reaching our own goals and realising our personal capacity rather than measuring ourselves against our peers. Any successful business will have resulted in the personal growth of the founder at its helm, because to start a business, stick with it through the trials and grow it, demands significant application of self – and we all grow and expand through that process which is as rewarding as the commercial benefits. If entrepreneurialism is to truly be an open playing field, then part of our task as a society is to continue to celebrate both the sure-footed bright young stars, whilst nurturing and affirming the young people who should be destined for success – but have such trouble believing it that they risk never taking the first step.