Confidence, Communication, Collaboration28 May 2014
A new award for founders of all ages celebrates those helping Britain to become a more entrepreneurial nation
It’s official; Britain is less entrepreneurial than Sweden. Despite a British start-up boom, with 526,446 new business registrations in 2013, the UK was ranked 14th in the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index – led by the US (1st) and Australia (2nd) with Sweden, Canada and Switzerland in joint third.
While investment and access to finance were identified as key enablers for the most entrepreneurial nations, these were cited as barriers to British entrepreneurs - impacting the introduction of new products and services, the penetration of foreign markets, and the recruitment of new employees.
But a more fundamental barrier to British entrepreneurship was highlighted at the recent ‘Future of Growth Summit’ - education. Leading entrepreneurs including Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria; Paul Lindley of Ella’s Kitchen and Wandisco’s David Richards lamented the disconnect between what school teaches children and what business needs them to learn.
“The skills that children need to be enterprising are confidence, communication and collaboration,” said Lindley, who highlighted the work of one entrepreneur who had developed these skills in NEETs and children who had been excluded from the school system.
Former Dyson CEO Martin McCourt said that while schools did a great job training people to absorb and apply knowledge, business trains individuals to apply traits and characteristics.
Echoing this point in his opening speech, Lord Young also highlighted the role of education in Britain’s economic recovery, saying: “My school, and probably your school too, only encouraged team sports. The whole purpose of education was to make people fit to work in the army or in government and in big companies. What business required then was conformists. We have to start looking at ways we can encourage young people to be even more entrepreneurial.”
Lord Young’s brave new world where “people see a glass half full and adopt a ‘can do’ attitude” may not be too far off. Britain has the second youngest average age for millionaires and multimillionaires in the G7 and the third youngest in the G20; but entrepreneurship isn’t just for the young. According to research commissioned by Barclays, entrepreneurs aged over 50 now account for an estimated 15% of all start-ups in England and Wales. ‘Third age’ entrepreneurs have the can do attitude but a more considered approach. Having launched a business after redundancy, retirement or dissatisfaction with their job or employer, this research suggested that they adopt a harder work ethic and invest more time in planning to get it right first time.
Aspiration and values also vary, with older entrepreneurs motivated by a practical desire to prove the viability of their big idea and secure their future. The quickest route to wealth and even celebrity is a major motivator for younger entrepreneurs - inspired by high profile serial entrepreneurs like Richard Branson. However, they are also more aware of their philanthropic work – with a strong ethical or social element to their business models.
A new award launched in partnership with HRH The Duke of York, and supported by cloud telephony specialist Vonage UK, may challenge some of these stereotypes – with founders of all ages, industries and regions competing for the title of Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year. On 24th June, ten semi-finalists will pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of peers, investors, advisers and influencers at St George’s Hall in Liverpool for the chance to win. Part of the International Festival for Business, the event will combine the best elements of Dragon’s Den, the X Factor and TED Talks to identify Britain’s best new founders. A judging panel including Betfair founder Ed Wray and Nails Inc CEO Thea Green will also debate the support available to entrepreneurs and how best to use it.
If you would like to join the audience to support the semi-finalists for this inaugural award, share insights on entrepreneurship, and connect with peers, register now for your free place.
Entries for the National Business Awards will be accepted until 30th May – so there is still time to register for a chance to be shortlisted. To find out more, visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk.