Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013: launch speech

All around the world today and this week, events are being held to draw attention to the crucial economic role of entrepreneurship.

Back in 1997, I was part of the team that launched the UK’s first magazine for entrepreneurs, Real Business. In the past 16 years, I reckon I’ve probably interviewed and met more entrepreneurs than most. Today I write a column for City AM about the evolution of the entrepreneurial economy in the UK, and am a proud ambassador for the British Library’s fantastic Business & IP Centre, which does so much to support our growth businesses.

Back in 1997, anyone running their own business had to fight for attention. The media lumped together global multinationals and small companies all under “business.” There was no Apprentice, no Dragons’ Den; only Sir Richard Branson, Anita Roddick, Lord Sugar and, perhaps, James Dyson registered on the public consciousness.

We wanted to shine a light on the amazing, dynamic businesspeople that were building companies, creating markets and increasing the nation’s prosperity.

There’s been huge progress since then. Global Entrepreneurship Week, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, is the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship. It started as a purely UK initiative, and has grown to a global project reaching millions of people.

But we can’t relent, we have to keep up the momentum. Because big business, the FTSE 100, and, dare I say it, Secretary of State, politics exercise massive gravitational pull. They still dominate public debate and media attention.

Frankly, we have to move on from this.

Our economy is being remodeled by entrepreneurship: big businesses and the public sector are fragmenting; there aren’t lots of new mega-employers like the automotive or coal-mining industries in the wings about to soak up those jobs.

No, traditional “jobs” will be, and are being, replaced by people taking a step forward – to use this week’s slogan – and setting up and running their own businesses. The country, and we as individuals, must all find our inner entrepreneur.

This is an extract of my speech given at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013, on Monday November 18, in the presence of Secretary of State Vince Cable, Risk Capital Partners’ CEO Luke Johnson and 200 guests. Much more on Twitter #gew2013 #gewfwd