Piers Linney is wrong: entrepreneurship is a blast
The former BBC Dragon has provoked howls of protest from Britain’s entrepreneurs, and raised the question: are we all capable of running our own business?Matthew Rock
Former Dragon Piers Linney stirred up a hornet’s nest when he talked to Growth Business about the “pain” and “stress” of being an entrepreneur. “You stop getting invited to parties and spend a lot of time on your own in the early days,” he said.
“What a load of c--p,” said the founder of one £12m-turnover marketing business. “Setting up a business is great fun, is hugely rewarding and doesn’t have to be the end of your life.” Linney’s comments would discourage people from setting up their own company – precisely what Britain does not need right now.
Nick Swan, founder and CEO of VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, weighed in, too: “I was really surprised by Piers Linney’s comments,” he said. “Undoubtedly, starting your own business is hard work but describing the process as ‘painful’ is definitely an overstatement that could lead to some negative consequences.
“Being an entrepreneur is one of the best and most rewarding things you can do. Not only do you get to work for yourself, hire a team of employees and do something you enjoy, you also get to make a real difference. Your employees become your responsibility and I really do think that is gratifying, especially when you see them developing and succeeding under your stewardship.
“I really would urge anyone thinking of starting their own business to go for it and ignore Piers Linney’s damaging opinions. Yes, it is hard work, but if you don’t realise that already then you probably shouldn’t pack it all in to start your own business! Now is arguably the best time to do so, with cheap technology, new forms of raising funds (crowdfunding) and an improving economy. The pain associated with entrepreneurship is much outweighed by the joy, so grab the opportunity to start your own business while you can!”
James Layfield, serial entrepreneur and CEO of collaborative workspace network Central Working, also pitched in: "The landscape for entrepreneurs can be difficult and at times unforgiving, but I wouldn't consider it painful. Today's entrepreneurs have access to a wealth of resources and government initiatives that exist purely to assist them. There are more accelerators, incubators and collaborative workspaces than ever, and we've recently seen the appointment of the first Small Business Commissioner. There's really been no better time to start your business."
"Once you overcome the initial fear of going out on your own, it becomes incredibly thrilling and somewhat addictive. I've launched five separate businesses and I would've stopped at one had it not been the most personally rewarding and satisfying experience.”
Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check, said that “the pain is mostly just the hard work that having a job doesn't entail. Having a job means keeping your boss or clients happy; starting a company means keeping your bankers, investors, clients, staff and, more importantly, your family happy.
But one young entrepreneur did leap to Linney’s defence. Oliver Proudlock launched ski chalet business Elevated Leisure in Chamonix in 2009.
“We tend to only hear the success stories about how wonderful an experience it all was and that everything was worth it. The truth is, most small businesses fail and in doing so generate a reasonable amount of collateral damage,” he said. “Entrepreneurship gets glamorised and many people embark on a new venture without fully understanding the commitment and risks that are required to achieve their goals… It is not for everybody. Not everyone can thrive in the uncertainty and chaotic thrill of entrepreneurship. Not everybody has the support network and perseverance to push through the deepest darkest moments.”
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