Successful entrepreneurs are the best gamblers in Britain

In this week’s Apprentice Helen faced Lord Sugar for the first time, and was exposed to his CV inspecting wrath. He made the point to the successful executive assistant that you don’t just wake up one morning and decide you’re a businessman. You have an idea, you have drive, you have passion, and you do it.

I’ve had a few conversations lately about what it means to have entrepreneurial spirit, in this day and age. Like Lord Sugar, I don’t think being clever, inventive, creative or even organised and hardworking are the core of it. Ultimately, to want to be an entrepreneur, the most valuable personality trait is that of a gambler.

You have to roll the dice.

That’s what it boils down to. Numeracy is important, creativity, a sense of strategy, the market and marketing, leadership skills – all key. But one of the reasons I’ve not started a business myself is the same reason that I rarely push all-in with deuces under the gun, even under punishing blind conditions – I don’t like the stress associated with that level of risk. And indeed, British entrepreneurial culture is far less forgiving of failed gambles in the business realm than other countries (like the US).

So is Britain’s ‘growth agenda’, in no small part founded on the idea that we’ll have a nation of burgeoning entrepreneurs, fundamentally flawed? I’m not sure. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if the idea of taking a risk on a business proposition is less scary to the average Brit. We seem to have a culture of at least (semi-) calculated risk and we do see a lot of start-ups emerging around the UK.

What do you think?

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  • Rsh0010

     I started my own business just before the recession and the motivation was not primarily financial but security for my family and to get away from idiot managers who only got their jobs through nepitism and I knew they would cause the collapse of the company I worked for sooner rather than later (sooner in this case).
    Yes it was a calculated gamble but if the business plan is strong, calculated correctly and followed it will work and I now have 2 other businesses just started as sister companies and turnover this year should exceed £1 million at 67% margin despite the dreadful timing.

    The financial rewards are not as fantastic as they should be – the most shocking thing for me was the cost of employing staff – not the salary which was budgeted but the associated add on taxes like NIC’s.
    As an employer taking people off the dole thus saving the government money l find it difficult to see why I should then be taxed for employing them whilst also generating a fortune in VAT for HMRC and then paying personal tax, tax on profits and council tax on the factories and my own house – I can’t see how tax, tax, tax encourages entrepreneurship..

    I am already starting to look into moving the business to a more tax efficient country that pays lower salaries which is something I would never have considered before starting up but is the reality of our high tax system.

  • Starting a business is a bit of a risk, so a gamble. However, I suppose there are many of us wish we bought that lottery ticket. However, as someone famous had said, “…we tend to regret the things we don’t do, rather than the things we do”. If you don’t start that business idea and it becomes too late, you will always wonder, “what if…”

  • @twitter-337167287:disqus Yes, that’s definitely true. 
    @332e5089147b876cf74e99acc83b620d:disqus Sounds like you’ve had an excellent experience. The tax issue is a challenging one, although I’m not sure there are many countries in Europe that aren’t currently facing a similar situation with broader economic challenges and constraints. Public services have to come from somewhere. But totally agree that the emphasis of taxation is a bit off. Tax the rich, I say, but then I would…

  • I agree with you to some extent, however i feel that with the right environment and level of support from the government, entrepreneurs don’t have to be gamblers. Even a job is more of a gamble these days than in the past so, i would rather be the master of my own destiny. Start a business, employ others, hopefully treat them well and motivate them to grow your enterprise.