The entrepreneurial spirit will lead us safely through uncertain waters

Andrew Christie is Coutts managing director for the North & Midlands
Andrew Christie is Coutts managing director for the North & Midlands
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“Without the element of uncertainty, the greatest business triumph would be dull, routine, and eminently unsatisfying.”

J. Paul Getty, once the world’s richest man, was not one to take the easy route. A man who navigated the Great Depression and came out the other side a tycoon that understood that

uncertainty is to be embraced, not treated as the enemy.

It’s the word that keeps appearing in every newspaper column and from the mouths of every politician and media pundit: uncertainty.

In fact, the only thing we can really be sure of in these increasingly chaotic times, is uncertainty itself.

But what is repeatedly said about uncertainty is not necessarily right or helpful for business. Five weeks of a prorogued Parliament may have left the country’s political future in a state of flux, but the conversations I have with entrepreneurs suggest that their businesses are ready to push on through the haze.

One thing all successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they adapt to the circumstances around them. They have a particular spirit that allows them to thrive while others stall, and continue to be the lifeblood of our economy.

It’s something I’ve written about before in these pages – the entrepreneurial spirit: it’s the courageousness to take risks, to always strive to improve, to prosper through change. As a collective they are naturally optimistic and their creativity allows them to find a route through the toughest of times, to find opportunity in the chaos.

There is precedent to say entrepreneurs will come through this battling period of uncertainty stronger than ever. Following the financial crash at the end of the last decade, what we saw emerge from the rubble were more entrepreneurs than ever before launching innovative, disruptive businesses.

That generation of business leaders asked themselves: "How do we make the most of this new world?" and helped make the UK the best country in Europe to do business.

And they did this not just by re-building London, but regenerating the business landscapes of cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Yorkshire’s main business hubs of Leeds and Sheffield, and many more beyond.

Entrepreneurs have always blossomed from every corner of the country, but there is a greater prevalence of innovative companies than ever before in regions outside the capital and its satellite cities in the south east, and they are fighting the uncertainty the only way they know how; by keeping calm and carrying on.

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to see some of the country’s most talented and inspiring entrepreneurs at a number of Coutts events across the UK. Around 25 business leaders in total shared their stories and their advice for entrepreneurial audiences eager to engage with and learn from their experiences.

What all of them shared was this desire to succeed, a determination to go the extra mile and to make the best of any situation.

Adam Hildreth, founder of Yorkshire-based cybersecurity firm Crisp Thinking, summed up the spirit at our Leeds event saying his mission will never be accomplished, and how he is always looking how his company can get bigger and better.

Learning and growing, no matter the circumstances – that’s the entrepreneur’s way – and now we are seeing a new generation, finding new solutions to a new cloud of uncertainty.

One of those solutions is to be purposeful, to do good for the world far beyond turning a profit.

Conversations I have with business leaders often turn to this point, suggesting that truly sustainable businesses of the future will focus on making a difference in society, and from here the financial side will follow.

That’s just one possible business model of the future, and perhaps more solutions will emerge from the particular unsettled period we now find ourselves in. But one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that while uncertainty is unnerving, it’s no hindrance to entrepreneurial success.

Coutts’ second annual Entrepreneur Month, which spotlights the achievements of the UK’s entrepreneurs kicks off next month. It’s a series of events that hold high-prestige in our bank,

providing us with an opportunity to recognise the entrepreneurial champions ensuring a secure future for those around them.

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our communities; creating jobs, changing the face of each business sector, boosting our economies locally, regionally and nationally. It’s time we celebrate this on a wider scale and give credit to one of the only things we can be sure of in these difficult times: the enduring entrepreneurial spirit.