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It really is not size that matters when it comes to entrepreneurship. The tiniest of business can roar the loudest and the spirit of achievement can shine from the darkest of places.
That is very much the theme of this year’s Small Awards, taking place in London this week. The spirit of achievement despite, and sometimes even because of, those things that hold us back is clearly in evidence in the small business world.
Entrepreneurship can be both a great enabler and a ray of hope for individuals and communities and really is not the sole domain of high-tech start-ups, funding rounds and complex regulations. The spirit of entrepreneurship – of making something from nothing, of breathing life into your own imaginings – can be a real opportunity creator if we give it a chance.
Maybe once seen as a privilege, now starting a business can bring its own privileges. Starting and growing a business can bring opportunities for social mobility, to improve your financial and educational lot as well as that of your staff and communities. Entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds and educations and what we see at The Small Awards and across the sector is a phenomenal range of businesses from the widest possible demographics. They come from across the UK; they are both men and women; they are disabled and enabled, recovering from mental ill health and cancer, young and old and even refugees that have come from absolutely nothing to make better lives for themselves and many many more besides.
Many businesses tell the story of how the inspiration for starting came in fact from a place of great difficulty. Take Community Driving School: the business was set up by John Nicholson with the goal of helping those on low wages, students and the disadvantaged to get that all important driving licence to allow them to get to work, access a wider range of jobs and become more economically empowered. John knows first-hand what it means to survive on state handouts, growing up on a council estate in South London, and wants to do all he can to help others out of this cycle.
Look as well at People First Mobility. Based in Lincolnshire, the business serves those with mobility issues – working directly with individuals to help them get more out of life. This from the phenomenal Karen Sheppard who has overcome huge personal challenges, including recovering from Cancer in 2015. Rather than see these challenges as a blocker to greater achievement, entrepreneurs like Karen see them as a springboard to do more.
But it is not just the big life challenges thrown at small businesses that inspires accomplishment and creation; the everyday challenges bring out the best in us too. Take the fabulous Stamptastic: set up by two mums, who wanted to work from home, with no experience of technology, coding or online retail. Now fully automated, they process 35,000 orders a year through their website with over 3,000 five star Feefo reviews. A phenomenal achievement for people who still describe themselves as non-perfect parents!
Perhaps there is an energy to be found in over-coming great obstacles to make your business fly. There is certainly a sense of empowerment to be found in making something from nothing, and once you have done that successfully for the first time, the process becomes addictive. What more can I do? What can I achieve next?
This is the driving spirit of the UK economy. This is the spirit of optimism we need right now to stir us up from any Brexit related torpor.
Don’t stop us now – small businesses are on a roll!
May 7, 2019 at 12:14AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs