Entrepreneurs’ greatest asset is their courage

Andrew Christie is Coutts managing director for the North, Midlands, South West and Wales
Andrew Christie is Coutts managing director for the North, Midlands, South West and Wales
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“OK… What’s next?” It’s the question that underscores an attitude of never looking back and always looking ahead.

It’s what Martin Sheen’s Jed Bartlet would regularly ask his staff in The West Wing. But far from qualities confined to a fictional political administration, it’s a very real attitude found in Yorkshire’s entrepreneurs; a sentiment echoed up and down the country, but few places contain such an enduring entrepreneurial mindset.

Proud, creative, tough: these are characteristics best represented by the people of ‘God’s Own Country’, and by anybody with the guts to launch and grow their own business.

In these uncertain and fast-changing times the pioneers of today are the innovators, the entrepreneurs, who not only adapt to this change, but drive it.

It is no wonder that the region is the UK’s most entrepreneurial outside London and the South East. Entrepreneurs share that same irrepressible spirit, the ability to jump over any hurdles and win.

Amidst a period of unprecedented uncertainty, Yorkshire has taken on a remarkable knack of prospering through change. We’ve seen some of the most county and country’s most historic brands, such as Wensleydale Creamery and Yorkshire Tea finding ways to thrive where others have failed to survive.

Meanwhile, disruptors such as Plusnet and PureGym have contributed to changing the way industries operate, and in Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the region is leading the way in future innovation.

The picture that has become clear during Coutts’ more than two decades with bases in Leeds and Sheffield – and more than 300 years as a partner to pioneers – is that if you are looking for the region’s change makers, the people that make the difference day in and day out, entrepreneurs are arguably our greatest asset, and their greatest asset is courage.

One thing I hear consistently is entrepreneurs saying they had to learn to fail fast in order to go again; that you need to both have the attitude that you will never give up, and the intelligence to know when to give up.

This is a common thread between all of the best entrepreneurs. It’s not about the first, second or even third attempt; in many cases it is about the fourth, fifth and sixth.

And what is the reason entrepreneurs have that ability to get knocked down and get back up, time and time again? A big part of it is the people around them.

Often the conversations I have with entrepreneurs, are that their main challenges are attracting the best talent, finding venture capital outside of London, or the uncertainty of the political landscape.

With the right support systems, with people who know where to look for that vital scale-up funding, or the socially-conscious business model you need to implement in order to attract the best talent, all sorts of challenges can be overcome.

The key is not knowing everything yourself – no entrepreneur possibly can – it is knowing other people who are familiar with the lifecycle of an entrepreneur; from start-up, to scale-up, to exit and beyond.

Whatever you think of change; from Brexit to the advancement of industry automation, the biggest concern we find entrepreneurs have is uncertainty. Often it is of little relevance which way a situation goes – leave or remain, man or machine – entrepreneurs deal with change and make it their own.

But clarity is essential to being able to handle that change when it comes, and again, a network of experts around you is vital to finding some clear air amongst the fog. When you look uncertainty straight in the eye, you must have someone who can help you find the answers you need.

Around 80-90 per cent of Coutts clients in Yorkshire are entrepreneurs; whatever stage they are at I have the same advice: there is an incredible positive power in bringing together a network of like-minded individuals to connect, to share ideas and experiences.

So, find your partner, someone to be a guiding hand through your entire journey, and someone who like you will constantly look to the future, always asking: "What’s next?"