Entrepreneurs need cheers instead of sneers

When John Pye was 19, he was staring unemployment in the face. The owner of the musical equipment shop where he worked had announced he was closing the business, and Mr Pye did not fancy his chances of finding another job.

Yet, just a few years on, he employs nearly 50 people in a Yorkshire business that specialises in the design and installation of commercial audio systems and closed-circuit TV packages - just because he saw the potential in the shop where he'd lost his job.

It is the sort of story that has become increasingly familiar as the growth of the internet has spawned a range of start-ups. But David Hall, an author and entrepreneur himself, says it could be even more common if the British showed genuine enthusiasm for enterprise and innovation. Instead, he says, we are still inclined to see entrepreneurs as "racketeers and spivs, epitomised by TV characters like Arthur Daley". As the title of his new book, In the Company of Heroes, suggests, it is a stereotyped view that has to change.

By pointing at the examples of Mr Pye and many others, the book attempts to play its part in that change. Breaking away from the usual entrepreneur books, which tend to focus on the biggest names and their personalities or life stories, it sets out to inspire would-be entrepreneurs by focusing on lesser-known business creators and the stories of their enterprises.

The idea is that this kind of emphasis will help others join the expanding ranks of successful entrepreneurs instead of just admiring them from afar. This is done by providing explanations of the processes by which businesses develop and grow, says Mr Hall, who built up a management consultancy turning over pounds 6.5m and employing 120 people before selling up three years ago. "There needs to be a recognition that, if you can't teach entrepreneurship, you can maybe nurture it," he explains.

Perhaps his most significant finding is that, for all the attention paid to preparing business plans, the founders are as likely to "just do it" as they are to spend huge amounts of time on market research. Academics and consultants come up with all kinds of technical management terms, but Mr Hall says many of the entrepreneurs he has spoken to have little understanding of such language and act more on instinct and an intuitive feel for opportunities.

n `In the Company of Heroes' is published by Kogan Page: pounds 16.99.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'