Oh dear. Editor-in-chief Jeremy O’Grady normally delivers words of wisdom in his weekly musings in The Week – a weekly paper /magazine providing an unbiased summary of the week’s news. But this time he’s got it horribly wrong. Entrepreneurs across the country need to ask him to reconsider his comments!
Jeremy says: “the entrepreneur is not a noble character” and suggests that small business owners have no regard for humanity, only self-interest. Wow! Yes, of course business owners want profitable businesses but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t care about people: their employees, their local community and the wider universe. Far from it! There will always be the exception of course, but perhaps cowboy (that’s the polite version!) is a better word for those individuals who want to make a quick buck and don’t care who gets hurt in the process. They are not entrepreneurs in my book.
So what has triggered these insults? Why does Jeremy believe benevolence is in short supply in the small business world? Why does he think entrepreneurs display a “self-servingness that often takes unlovely forms?” Well, it would seem all this is based on programmes such as The Apprentice! For years I have held Jeremy in high regard and valued his opinions even if I didn’t completely agree with them. But now I find his views are based on what he sees on the television!!
Jeremy, TV is designed for entertainment. Just like Coronation Street and Eastenders. It’s not real life!
Our videos show a few example of very noble entrepreneurs!
Jeremy’s short article, together with another contribution by Valentine Low, also makes adverse comments about entrepreneurs who have received honours in this New Year’s Honours List. This provides me with a perfect opportunity to start to dispel his comments.
Shaa Wasmund was awarded an MBE this year for ‘services to Business and Enterprise.’ I have attended many of Shaa’s events over the last few years and, coincidentally, attended her Business Bootcamp last Friday. Shaa is indeed an extremely successful businesswoman and can command high fees for her services. But Shaa’s underlying message is always very clear: don’t put money as your top priority. She continually emphasises:
She describes her own style as “hustle and serve.” Shaa knows how to do the deals; to make the right connections; to get high flying individuals and big corporates supporting her projects. But it’s a two way process: she is always committed to giving back to ensure her stakeholders receive real value.
And Shaa isn’t alone. Using Jeremy’s words, “the butcher, the brewer, the baker” and other entrepreneurs across the world are committed to more than profit. Their number one priority is normally providing a great service. Many are committed to being great employers, supporting their local community and generally helping to make the world a better place.
Yes, I believe many business owners could do a bit more and that is the focus of our projects, particularly the Business and Community Charters which we’ll soon be launching across the UK. But lots of small business owners are already doing so many great things. Our videos show just a few examples.
I’ve spoken at national conferences on Social Value and Social Justice because I believe small business – the engine room of the British economy – could be the primary driver for social change. There are nearly 5 million small businesses in the UK and if they all do a little bit more the impact will be huge. For those that aren’t proactively contributing, they are mostly decent people and with a little bit of nudging and support they will happily “give something back.” That might be fundraising, volunteering, offering work experience, employing apprenticing or a whole range of other positive activities.
To all you fabulous entrepreneurs out there: here’s your opportunity to tell your story. Please add your comments below. Show the world that you are indeed a noble character. Let us know about the great things you are doing in your business.
Let’s make Jeremy O’Grady eat his words!