How entrepreneurs feed the cycle of prosperity
William Berry on why Britain needs the next generation of Dame Anita Roddicks and Bransons to keep the economy moving
If you picture an entrepreneur what do you see; a slick Richard Branson-type figure, a geeky Bill Gates or a no-nonsense Karren Brady?
The key to understanding entrepreneurs is realising that they are all different, working in every industry and with their own ideas and plans but one thing that unites them all is the contribution they make to the economy and to UK business today.
And there are plenty of Britons who want to become the next Branson, Gates and Brady. More businesses start-up here than anywhere else in Europe and entrepreneurs and their needs have been at the heart of our government’s policies as their worth is recognised.
Legal firm Pinsent Mason has said the number of foreign entrepreneurs heading to Britain has more than doubled in the past year, rising to 462 in the 12 months to June 2012 from 199 the year before.
Business secretary Vince Cable has even gone as far to say it is entrepreneurs who will lead Britain out of recession as they contribute to growth in the economy.
He said: “If the British economy is to grow out of this crisis we’ve had, it is going to happen on the back of largely small-to-medium sized companies.”
From a tax perspective entrepreneurs are a key player in filling the government coffers. They create companies that pay myriad taxes, and employ workers who pay income tax, and then spend their wages on items and services on which they pay tax, drip-feeding into the government purse at all levels.
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Of course, entrepreneurial spirit extends beyond just starting up a company, it also means investing in other start-ups which many entrepreneurs focus on and once again starting the prosperous cycle of job creation, business growth, and tax payments which will hopefully help us reduce the number of unemployed from the current figure of 2.51 million.
The ideas of one entrepreneur can also shoot off into a follow-on business idea; think of how many ‘app’ entrepreneurs have been created because Steve Jobs had the vision to build Apple. It could be said that business begets business as ideas are moved on, tweaked and expanded.
They encourage younger generations to hone their skills and get their hands dirty, readying themselves for a life as an entrepreneur or as a skilled employee for another business who will benefit from their expertise.
But entrepreneurs also contribute to the business community in maybe more intangible but no less important ways.
Inspiring business change
Britain has a growing number of ‘social entrepreneurs’ who are less concerned with profit margins and more concerned about hitting broader social, cultural and environmental goals.
Although social entrepreneurship is typically associated with the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors its impact is being felt in the private sector. Businesses are understanding the value of working within ethical and moral perimeters as consumers become more discerning.
Social entrepreneurs and business entrepreneurs are increasingly being cut from the same cloth.
The final way in which entrepreneurs are contributing to business is by being role models. There is not one successful businessperson who does not have a person they look up to or who they are trying to emulate.
Britain needs entrepreneurs to inspire the next generation of business owners, the next generation of Steve Jobs’ and Anita Roddicks. Many entrepreneurs are already involved in mentoring programmes, encouraging people to live their dreams and giving them the confidence to believe in their ideas.
And with the government relying on entrepreneurs to breathe life back into the UK economy, that sort of support and inspiration is priceless.
William Berry is a serial entrepreneur and in 2006 was named a Young Gun by Growing Business. He is the founder-director of accommodationforstudents.com, and Vincentbond.com. William is also CEO of the new video start up p6.com, based in California.