What is Entrepreneurship?

Phil's Journey through Journalism

By the time he was 11, a London boy named Alan Sugar started his career selling rags to a scrap merchant. Although the merchant swindled the young Mr Sugar by handing him half a crown for what turned out to be wool, rather than £1.10, he was beginning to develop something known as the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.

The Apprentice
Can anyone replicate his success?

By the age of 15 he bought a camera and started selling pictures of children in his neighbourhood to parents and grandparents, making some extra cash on the side while studying. But to the horror of his parents he left school early to work in a factory. His story is one of rags to riches, from the back streets of Croydon to heart of London, Southbank. Today he is arguably the most iconic self-made man in the UK.

But with so much media talk of entrepreneurship – a clear ideology of the coalition government – as the “Big Society” begins a process of decentralisation and looks to create space for new business start-ups to take the flack of the recession, it has made me question, what does it mean to be “entrepreneurial”? And is it the way forward?

Just two days ago at the Cardiff business club, another celebrity entrepreneur and politican Lord Heseltine spoke of his journey to success in his early days after graduation from Oxford. Of course he faced uncertainty. He had to start out somewhere, eventually becoming one of the most successful publishing moguls of our time. Lord Heseltine said he started out with £1000 in his pocket and began his entrepreneurial journey by renting a 9 bedroom flat with a friend and letting it out for a small profit. The pair then moved their business into a hotel. A snowball effect culminating in the genesis of Haymarket with a friend from university.

What can we learn about entrepreneurship from these two men? The lesson I took was to make the most of a little. There were many times when projects failed. Heseltine’s magazines, <emMan about town and Topic were a flop and Lord Sugar nearly lost his fortune with the demise of Amstrad. But persistence, resilience and some luck managed to pull them through.

The Oxford dictionary defines entrepreneurship as characterized by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit. But is entrepreneurship solely about taking risks and making profit? Perhaps it is about having a sense of commercial awareness, resourcefulness, energy, creativity and an understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. So when a spot of luck comes your way, you are ready to make the most of it. And perhaps the best outcome is to benefit society with the by-product of some profit.

Perhaps part of his success is down to the fact that he is not afraid to be himself. What you see is what you get.

‘Snow Joke – The Cost of Snow

Cardiff Business News

At primary school nothing excited us more than snow. Although the teacher wouldn’t let us out of class until the end of the day, we talked about it, thought about it and even planned our next hiding spot to pick off unsuspecting parents and classmates.


Snow brings Cardiff City Centre to a standstill

People are curious about snow. Who would have thought a frozen bit of water could cause so much intrigue. Some people poke their heads out of their doors just to see what is happening, others inspect the ground in their front garden and on top of their cars, while others still dig a clear path outside their driveway to minimise the risk of being sued.

Then there are those who are unable to resist the juvenile desire to form a rough sort of spherical shape and launch it at a wall, lamppost or passing pedestrian.

But today thousands of people across the UK are not so intrigued or enthusiastic about the big freeze. A White Christmas could put festivities “on ice” this year.

As flights have been cancelled right across the UK, it is important to know your rights and get the customer service you have paid for.

This scenario happened to me today. At the crack on dawn I dragged a heavy suitcase through the mushy streets of Cardiff in search of a taxi or any form of transport to get to the Airport. I checked all the updates at my departure and destination airports, both reassuring that flights were operating as per usual.

Eventually a taxi driver spotted me making deep tracks in the snow-laden pavement and took me to the airport. I wasn’t too bothered about the fare, a hefty £25, as I was sure my flight was due to board shortly. When I got to the desk, however, I was told the flight had just been cancelled.

My flight has been rescheduled for tomorrow, but I will lose out on airport transfers. Is the flight company liable to pay compensation? According to the Airport Users Traffic Council compensation is not handed out when flights are cancelled due to ‘extreme circumstances’, which includes bad weather.

Under the same act, the airline is required to refund me within seven days or offer a re-routing. But I will not qualify for compensation for hotel stays or transfer costs.

Aside from the cost of the snow to individuals, businesses will be hit as employees are stranded and shoppers postpone their big Christmas shop. It was estimated earlier this year the effects of snowy and icy conditions will cost businesses £1.2bn a day.

In the meantime as I am thinking of a plan ‘B’ – it could be a good time of year for ferry companies.

To see what areas have been affected visit the interactive UKsnow website.

Businessweek round-up: Ireland’s future, how the markets influence sheep thieves and Christmas shopping in Wales

Cardiff Business News

An uncomfortable week ahead for the Irish

It will be an uneasy week for Ireland as its Budget for 2011 will be announced on Tuesday. The Guardian has called for the Irish politicians to go back to the IMF to renegotiate its bailout package as the Irish taxpayer is expected to pay one out of every five pounds in interest on its debt. If it a renegotaition is not reached, writes the Guardian, a further bailout deal could lead to a ‘Treaty of Versailles’ scale legacy on the Irish Economy.

Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen
A worried Brian Cowen, Ireland’s Prime Minister

Sheep Thieves influenced by market trends

It is very rare that the Financial Times makes me laugh, but this weekend’s edition induced a chuckle as I read the headline “Ram-raiders flock to rustle sheep as global trends shepherd in price rises.” It wasn’t so much the Sun-esque headline that grabbed my attention but the fact that farmers will have to be watching the markets to anticipate new trends in the activities of thieves. The FT’s North of England Correspondent, Andrew Bounds, explains: “The weak pound means many sheep are being exported, while traditional sellers such as New Zealand are struggling with drought and sending what lambs they do have to newly wealth Asia. This is helping push up prices at home.”

As prices are pushed up, stealing sheep becomes more profitable. The same happens when commodity prices such as steel rise. In such instances theives have stolen manhole covers.

Lying sheep
Sheep Raiding is at a 10 year high

A round up of the Welsh Business News

Christmas is on its way and many shoppers are holding off for a bargain in the early sales. But Director of St. Davids Mall, Steven Madaley, has warned retailers won’t be slashing prices before the official post-Christmas sales. The higher rate of VAT is to come in this January, encouraging pre-Christmas buying.

Don’t bank on pre-Christmas sales, warns centre director

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced a consultation session on the future of the banking system as the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) comes to Wales next week. The ICB will be at the Pierhead in Cardiff Bay on December 8 to debate and hear evidence.

Have a say on banking system

Other Cardiff Related Business News:

Languages needed to boost exports

Biotech firm makes acquisition

Doubts over Cardiff Bay plan for sector aid to companies

More next week.

The BBC dosen’t tell the full story about China

Cardiff Business News

The Cardiff Business community heard how BBC coverage of UK trade with China does not show the full picture at a business event in Cardiff earlier tonight.

Over one hundred people attending the event organised by the Cardiff Confucius Institute heard from business leaders who are currently operating in with the world’s fastest growing economy.

Representatives from leading Welsh Businesses presented case studies and success stories of working China, dispelling claims in the UK media that a trade imbalance was desperately in favour of the world’s fastest growing economy, which saw its GDP increase by 8.7% last year.

Stewart Ferguson of CBBC, the China Britain Business Council, challenged reports from BBC’s business editor Robert Peston who said Chinese exports to the UK were three times the figure for imports.

In an article on the BBC website earlier this month Mr Peston said: “In 2009 we sold £8.7bn of tangibles and intangibles to China, and we bought three times as much, £25.8bn, from the Chinese,” he says.

“Although over 10 years our sales of goods and services to China have increased by a seemingly healthy 4.6 times, imports have risen by a far greater multiple, 6.6 times.”

Mr Ferguson said although this was true, there were other contributions to the UK economy from China such as £2bn per year coming from Chinese students in China.

He added there are 4,000 British enterprises in China, while UK based accountancy firms dominate the Chinese market and as over 150m Chinese residents are expected to flock to the cities over the next ten years demand could grow for UK goods and services.

Responsible Business: Interview with Business in the Community director Simon Harris

Cardiff Business News

Just two days ago the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reviewed the figure of public sector job losses down from 490,000 announced by George Osborne in the CSR last month to 330,000. Despite this good news, both the public and private sector will suffer as a result of government spending cuts.


(Mr Harris at his office in Cardiff)

In these austere times as public sector contracts dry up and the banks refuse to lend, many business leaders will look to streamline their operations to save money and retain staff where possible.

Meanwhile globalisation has enabled companies to outsource to emerging markets like China or India and cut corners where possible to trim their budgets.

But as cutbacks are made, will responsible business practices suffer?

Sitting in his BiTC office boardroom, Mr Simon Harris, told me this is not necessarily the case.

When asked whether businesses were less likely to invest in responsible and sustainable business projects Mr Harris said:

“This is a particularly important time to focus on responsible business practice.”

“Our argument is that to separate yourself out as a business from the rest you need to look at how you are different from the rest.”

“In the retail sector consumers are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and purchase fair trade goods, for example.”

“So, if a business can promote a very positive responsible attitude then there is a possibility that consumers would be more likely go for those businesses than those that aren’t.”

“There is evidence that business leaders across the UK see responsible business practices as being key to their strategic development within the next few years.”

Mr Harris did, however, admit the CSR and public spending cuts could affect operations of the BiTC.

“With reference to the BiTC, as it does receive funds from the WAG, it will be difficult to renew some of the programmes we are running,” Harris said.

“In terms of the private sector if there is a continued or double dip recession it could be more difficult for them.”

Mr Harris said he was hopeful projects such as working in schools and exposing business leaders through projects such as “Seeing is Believing,” would help promote responsible business practices.

In as the recession continues it remains to be seen how business practices will react to tighter budgets and and a contraction in the public sector.

Applications open tomorrow for the BiTC flagship awards the Wales Recognition Awards 2011.

BiTC is a UK based business-led charity, which seeks to promote responsibility in the workplace, marketplace, community and the environment and it is a member of The Prince’s Charities. It’s headquarters are in London.

Serving the people

Cardiff Media Blogs

Journalists may enjoy the thrill of racing the clock to break a story, rising to the challenge to be creative in the space of a few inches of newspaper, breathing life into the mundane or even attracting people’s attention with pictures.

But is that what journalism is really all about?

Is it not about serving people?

Joanna Geary a social media guru at the Times challenged trainee journalists at Cardiff University to write down their reasons for chosing journalism as a career, providing an uneasy moment for those whose job is to ask questions rather than answer them.

“It’s not about us getting the story,” says Geary, it’s about the audience.

In fact, its not about getting your name in print, or attracting any sort of reader, but meeting their needs of people. Newspapers who look down on their readers can have no hope of ever succeeding as a business.

As the internet is changing the news-scape, users now have more control than ever before. Audiences can challenge journalists and pitch their own ideas. A community forms and people that care about an issue are forged together, forming a niche area where people can collaborate.

So as and where communities form, journalists must interact with them. These audiences have news ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. And now, thanks to the internet, they can communicate directly with the content provider to express their appetite for news. Anyone reading this, for example, can leave a comment or write to me on twitter.

But if editorial staff play to the ‘wants’ of people to attract more views could, however, lead to myopic news values. Will news shrink entirely to the tune of its readership?

Have a look and see what the most popular stories are now on the BBC’s counter. The most popular videos on youtube contain Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga – an indicator of what people want. Let’s hope newspapers don’t give in to online peer pressure as revenues crumble.

Obviously there is a necessity to attract an audience, as audiences bring revenue. But as there is so much choice on the internet, does it mean news sites becomes more about a brand than news per se?

Let’s take a hypothetical situation:

I am a businessman and so I am interested in business news, changes in government policy and anything that might affect my business. I could go to any number of outlets or news sites. But I will decide to go to one that I am familiar with. I will go to a source that I can trust and with whom I share news and/or political values. I choose the Times online.

I used to enjoy this source for free. But unfortunately now I have to pay for it because of a paywall.

The leads me to a crucial question:

Is the Times business news so unique and useful that I will not go anywhere else to find out what is happening in the business world? Do I trust the journalists and enjoy their writing style, find their analysis helpful and understand the way they present data? This is what you might call added-value journalism.

News in the future could well be based on brand, reliability, but also about online relationships. I am much more likely to read a news site that listens, interacts and cares about my business needs.

A news outlet will need to have a pre-defined model, niche strategy and brand. For if it does not, I will simply take my business elsewhere.

It poses a great challenge to journalists: be informed, inform, be reliable and accurate, be trustworthy, listen, serve your audience and interact.

Is it possible to be and do all these things?

With a smart use of technology, a solid grasp of social networking, such as the use of Twitter for tip offs but still hold onto the fundamental skills of journalism of robust tradecraft, strategy, good contacts and accuracy it is still humanly possible do all of these.

It’s about building a personal brand and serving people.

Q & A: What does the Draft Budget mean for Wales?

Cardiff Business News

It has been called the biggest challenge to the WAG since the advent of devolution. But what is the budget and what does it actually mean for the people of Wales?

What is the Draft Budget?

It is a draft of spending plans for Wales over the next three years. Each year the WAG is allocated funding, for example, £13.5bn was set aside for revenue spending and £1.2bn for capital spending in 2011-12.

Why is it important?

The draft budget outlines the amount of expenditure available to government departments, including Health and Social Services, Social Justice and Local Government, Economy and Transport, Environment Sustainability and Housing, Rural affairs, Heritage, Public Services and Performance and Central Services and Administration. There will be cuts to all of these sectors, which will lead to departmental cost cutting measures including possible redundancies.

How much and what is going to be cut?

The total capital expenditure, that is, the amount available for building projects such as schools, roads and hospitals will be cut by around 33% over the next four years.

captial

Meanwhile the total revenue expenditure, which relates to running costs such as salaries, will be cut by around 7%, meaning the total budget will be cut by 40% over the next three years.

revenue change

Source WAG draft budget

What has been saved?

There will still be free breakfasts for children at school, free prescriptions for those on low incomes, concessionary travel for the elderly and disabled and free swimming.

What will the spending cuts mean for the private sector?

While the draft budget gives an indication of how cuts will be administered to the public sector, there will also be ramifications for the private sector.

impact

Cuts to the public sector will mean contracts to private companies will be curtailed as building projects are frozen, and this draft budget will no doubt concern businesses in Cardiff.

Ok, but it’s only a draft budget. When does it become official?

Assembly votes on the final budget on February 8.

The Draft Budget can be viewed in full on the Welsh Assembly Government website

What is Entrepreneurship?

Cardiff Business News

By the time he was 11, a London boy named Alan Sugar started his career selling rags to a scrap merchant. Although the merchant swindled the young Mr Sugar by handing him half a crown for what turned out to be wool, rather than £1.10, he was beginning to develop something known as the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.

The Apprentice
Can anyone replicate his success?

By the age of 15 he bought a camera and started selling pictures of children in his neighbourhood to parents and grandparents, making some extra cash on the side while studying. But to the horror of his parents he left school early to work in a factory. His story is one of rags to riches, from the back streets of Croydon to heart of London, Southbank. Today he is arguably the most iconic self-made man in the UK.

But with so much media talk of entrepreneurship – a clear ideology of the coalition government – as the “Big Society” begins a process of decentralisation and looks to create space for new business start-ups to take the flack of the recession, it has made me question, what does it mean to be “entrepreneurial”? And is it the way forward?

Just two days ago at the Cardiff business club, another celebrity entrepreneur and politican Lord Heseltine spoke of his journey to success in his early days after graduation from Oxford. Of course he faced uncertainty. He had to start out somewhere, eventually becoming one of the most successful publishing moguls of our time. Lord Heseltine said he started out with £1000 in his pocket and began his entrepreneurial journey by renting a 9 bedroom flat with a friend and letting it out for a small profit. The pair then moved their business into a hotel. A snowball effect culminating in the genesis of Haymarket with a friend from university.

What can we learn about entrepreneurship from these two men? The lesson I took was to make the most of a little. There were many times when projects failed. Heseltine’s magazines, <emMan about town and Topic were a flop and Lord Sugar nearly lost his fortune with the demise of Amstrad. But persistence, resilience and some luck managed to pull them through.

The Oxford dictionary defines entrepreneurship as characterized by the taking of financial risks in the hope of profit. But is entrepreneurship solely about taking risks and making profit? Perhaps it is about having a sense of commercial awareness, resourcefulness, energy, creativity and an understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. So when a spot of luck comes your way, you are ready to make the most of it. And perhaps the best outcome is to benefit society with the by-product of some profit.

Perhaps part of his success is down to the fact that he is not afraid to be himself. What you see is what you get.