Keeping up with the Joneses

By: James Ainsworth

Date: 20 October 2009

Monday morning saw an early start for your intrepid blogger and a trip to the BT Tower in London for the Small Business Week launch event. The Business Pulse survey results were revealed and were duly followed by a series of talks from the likes of Lord Digby Jones and Peter Jones.

The recurring theme of the talks was that of adaptability and innovation. During the recession, innovative small businesses have adapted to survive; they had to, and will continue to do so as and when we climb out of it. But what of innovation? What does innovation mean to those at the forefront of helping start-ups come to fruition?

Peter Jones was the most outspoken on such matters. “Not a lot of people know what innovation is. If people with a small business want to innovate, hear this; innovation is basically doing things better than your competition”. Television's highest profile Dragon spoke of the lack of skills training in the UK and how this is inhibiting innovation. To highlight the sorry state of affairs, Peter Jones explained how the first ever academy for training entrepreneurs with the required skills was set up by himself a year ago. Not so much filling a gap in the market but plugging a gaping hole in the country's skill-set.

“The skills necessary to start a business–we don't teach them in this country. I started the first National Enterprise Academy and boy was I shocked–the first–only a year ago. We never had one. We don't have any academy that teaches enterprise in Britain apart from mine. I think that sums up where we are.”

“We need more practical skills resonating down to seven and eight year-old children. That's where we need to start. We need to be reading them books, not about Jack and Jill. We need to be reading books about Jack who starts up his flower shop. I read to my kids and I make them up.”

So the education system is holding back the skills and stifling innovative entrepreneurial growth and we need a reappraisal of how we stoke the fires of inspiration for our innovative entrepreneurs of the future. Now if you excuse me, I am just perfecting my Dragon's Den pitch for a children's television programme, 'Little Bo Peep and the impending tax return deadline.'

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