THE Duke of York heralded the importance of leadership and teamwork in business as he welcomed entrepreneurs from across the country to ‘God’s Country’ at the MADE festival in Yorkshire.
Business Secretary Vince Cable told the enterprise conference that Britain is “emerging from a really epic economic crisis” and said the 2,500-strong gathering “reflects the enormous strength and growth of the smaller business community in very, very difficult economic conditions”.
The third annual MADE festival again succeeded in bringing some of the country’s most successful business people to Sheffield for a day of speeches and panel debates on enterprise and entrepreneurialism.
Speakers included Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones, fashion designer Wayne Hemingway, MOBO awards organiser Kanya King and Charles Morgan of Morgan Cars.
Addressing the audience, Prince Andrew said: “The reason I’m here today is because I believe that all of you are leaders in your field.
“I was in the Royal Navy and inculcated in me very early on was the principle of leadership.
“All of you have a role in leadership because you are all leading businesses or business people.
“But there’s another aspect to leadership and entrepreneurship that is equally important and that is teamwork.”
He paid tribute to festival chairman Michael Hayman but said one man alone could not deliver an event of such scale without a team around him.
“The same thing is true of what we do in the Royal Family,” said the Duke.
“We couldn’t do what we do for the United Kingdom without the team that we have. Equally, you can’t do what you do i n your businesses without the team of people who are around you.”
He added: “Entrepreneurship and the idea of creating entrepreneurs in this country who can continue to grow the prosperity that you have done for us is really important.”
Telecoms tycoon Peter Jones, who received the kind of reception normally reserved for rock stars, told the audience that parents and the education system have a vitally important role to play in helping to create the successful entrepreneurs of the future.
He has opened 36 Peter Jones Enterprise Academies teaching enterprise and entrepreneurship to 16-18-year-olds. Mr Jones told the Yorkshire Post that 98 per cent of his students have gone on to start new businesses, continue in further education or find employment in business.
According to Mr Cable, Britain is now one of the best places in the world to start a new business, alongside the United States and Canada.
He said the Government’s new package offering start-up support to 18 to 24-year-olds, including small loans and mentoring, was progressing well with 1,200 expressions of interest. His deputy, Michael Fallon, the new Business Minister, told the Yorkshire Post that he would go “further and faster” than his predecessor Mark Prisk in cutting red tape for businesses. Mr Fallon yesterday used the festival to announce a new independent scrutiny of unnecessary rules and regulations that act as a barrier to growth for so-called challenger businesses.
“If you are running a small internet company you do not need a council official inspecting your health and safety every six months. It’s a low-risk business,” he said.
Lord Young of Graffham, the Prime Minister’s enterprise adviser and a veteran businessman, told the audience how the internet has “transformed the opportunities” for people to launch new businesses.
He said: “I’ve lived and worked through every recession since 1955 and I have never known a recession where unemployment has gone down and employment has gone up.
“I’m not sure the Government can measure the economy anymore,” he added, questioning whether commerce through websites like Google and eBay is actually measured.
Kanya King, who founded Europe’s largest urban music awards, said: “All you need to start a business is a mobile phone and a laptop. That’s all the infrastructure you need.”
According to Lord Young, Britain is home to 4.5 million businesses today, compared to 2m in the mid-90s.
Doug Richard, the US-born, UK-based angel investor, said: “I can’t think of a better place, including the US, to start a company.”
He cited the low cost of capital and labour, rivals retreating from markets and the power of the internet.