Bristol Business Awards


Awards of any description are important because generally they are given by a cross section of society to individuals or organisations who have done something unusual and contributed to the community in which they live or work.

I was proud to be given The Lifetime Achievement Award in front of hundreds of people in Bristol last week and apologise to those watching for hastily trying to put my jacket on when ITV News Presenter Ian Axton announced my name. I had absolutely no idea I had even been nominated and was busily tweeting out that I thought Williams Motors, who had won Family Business of The Year, were a brilliant choice, when I suddenly noticed people standing up all around me, clapping and looking in my direction.

Making money is an important activity, without the innovators and creators of wealth, there would be nothing for society to spend on the many good causes that need financial assistance to survive. Causes such as healthcare, education and homelessness.

Unless the private sector creates wealth there is nothing for the public sector to spend. This is such a simple fact that it’s a shame it’s sometimes forgotten.

Free Enterprise really can be a force for good in the world, providing huge surpluses for both the individuals who develop businesses and inventions and for the country in which they live.

Who would deny Emerson his personal fortune? By creating the electric light bulb he provided the rest of us with light in our lives. Every night when I read my book before going to sleep I thank a man who died many years ago for creating the means by which I can read the words on the page, when the rest of the room is pitch black.

Most other major inventions which have benefitted the global community have been delivered by the free enterprise system we have adopted as our own in the Western Democracies over the last 150 years. Things like the telephone, penicillin, the car, railways, aeroplanes, Tarmac, the television, radio, the computer, the Internet and so on. In fact without the drive displayed by Steve Jobs in creating Apple, I would not be writing this on my iPad!

Democracy is certainly a force for good and when coupled to the bristling power of free enterprise its achievements have been magnificent. It is the essence of fairness. Is it perfect? certainly not. Is it better than dictatorship? Absolutely.

You only have to look at the countries that have adopted both free enterprise and democracy as their organisational system to realise why the powerful engines that drive it are so important to everyone that is protected by the fairer society it produces.

Business people often risk their homes when creating new businesses. Try getting a bank loan without any security! It’s not always easy with it.

Free Enterprise is answering that call also though, with the creation of alternative forms of finance for SMEs, such as Crowd Funding and the like.

As a nation we are also developing many other forms of help for SMEs. My work at The British Library in London involves helping develop the Business and Intellectual Property Centre which was created in 2006, as well as being an ambassador. It’s an amazing place full of people just buzzing with ideas, who are being helped by dedicated staff who understand the significance of linking the “place that stores the worlds knowledge” with the people who need to access it, in a bid to develop the next Apple, Google or perhaps Microsoft?

We are rolling out the BIPC programme across the nation with both Manchester and Birmingham opening in July 2014.

These two dynamic powerhouses will join Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle & Liverpool, in providing help and assistance to Britain’s entrepreneurs. I am certain some of these entrepreneurs will go onto create cures for all kinds of issues that befall humanity. Perhaps a final cure for cancer or aids will be discovered by someone striving to create wealth for his or herself, or family? Just because that person wants to create a better financial future for themselves doesn’t detract from the overall good that comes out of that drive.

Another educational institution leading the way in developing responsible business leadership is The University of West of England. Quickly climbing the national league tables for universities it now occupies 49th place out of 120, so has entered the top half of the table for the first time. It’s an amazing dynamic University with over 31,000 students from all over the world. With its dedicated academic staff and focused leadership I can only see great things ahead for one of the UKs top campus style educational establishments. Bristol is a brilliant, young minded City which is taking its rightful place on the international stage and in doing so so attracts students from just about every corner of the globe.

The Faculty of Business and Law at The University of West of England will be announcing a new £50m building soon and I would encourage anyone reading this to contact UWE and ask what courses are available. Why not become one of the great leaders of the World with a degree from this leading university?

That’s the essence of responsible capitalism. It can be a force for good, providing of course that the powerful stallions of free enterprise, stomping their feet and snorting with power up front, are harnessed to the carriage of humanity that is inextricably linked behind.

Free Enterprise yes, free of responsibility to the rest of society no. With wealth comes huge responsibility. It is for all political and business leaders to accept that responsibility, and work together for the benefit of everyone.

Leadership isn’t about shouting and dictating. It’s about leading in a responsible and measured way. Very few dictatorships survive long because in the end they lack the will of the people.

Hitler was but a blip in the development of civilisation but look what damage he did in so short a time. Many other dictators have caused similar catastrophes to unfold so let’s be grateful that we can vote for who we think will run the country best. Whether David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg or Nigel Farage is your choice be thankful that you’ve got one because many citizens of the world haven’t.

You have a vote so use it. Decide who you think will best serve everyone’s interest not just your own, because in the end we really are all in this together.

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