“The global economy will double in the next 20 years,” Gordon Brown said with the conviction of a headmaster looking forward to his summer holidays, by which I mean it sounded like it would happen because ‘I am wise and old skool, but I won’t be around to help you achieve it’.
It was global enterprise week , an impressive network of cross-continental events, the first in the world….ever, part three, volume 4, triple disc set…and here we were at the centre of it: young (check), enterprising (check), optimistic (check), inspired (er..) and taking part in the flag-ship debate with no less than the first minister of our fair isle hopping from his front bench to tell us “we need you.”
Like signing-up for duty, it is now up to the entrepreneurs of this country, apparantly, especially those with little or no experience, to play their part in innovating our way out of the mire, of marketing without spending, of delivering without compromising. Stirring stuff and slightly mad? But, of course.
Now, speed-networking my way across central London this week (including a fun hour with the Sun Newspaper on the London Eye where you hope that your dream connection is not behind the glass of the next bubble) I don’t think anyone can deny the entrepreneurial spirit is burning strong and in an understated way, is actually optimistic – but there also seems to be two quite different trains of thought towards ‘enterprise’ which was illustrated well in the only real moment of ‘debate’ that the PM opened.
Dragon’s Den star James Caan was advocating the Bill Gates approach to entrepreneurship – make your money and then you can give back more. Tim Smit , founder of the Eden Project, begged to differ. Tim, quite rightly in my opinion, said that we should focus on good profit from day one and that the millions that Eden has created for the 2400+ suppliers of its project and communities in Cornwall wouldn’t have happened with the old model.
Enterprise shouldn’t be about restricting profit, Tim continued, its about making lots of good money and using it well. Yes sir. And what about ‘your horrible moment during the development of Eden’, the host asked…”there wasn’t one,” Tim replied, “the biggest mistake I’ve made was managing Motorhead.” Fair enough.
I also took part in the ‘Enterprising Young Brits’ network, the ‘Future 100’ event, and spoke today at an enterprise event at the impressive Leeds Met . And in these networks of speed and hope and creativity one message became more clear than any politician or dragon could articulate… in a mixture of Obama, South Park and Coldplay rhetoric the young optimists are shouting with their megaphones… our marketplace is instant and global and yes we can bloody do it. We must. Will it be easy? Will it heck.
My start-up discovery of the week is YOUNOODLE . You’ll love it.