Chatter from Becs:
Cumbria is an entrepreneurial county: discuss.
My opening sentence sounds like an essay question from a business studies GCSE. Well, I wouldn’t actually know because I didn’t do business studies at school (though I wish I had) but I do think it’s an interesting topic.
Ever since I started my business with my sister, people have asked me ‘why did you do that?’. I’m never entirely sure whether they think I’m crazy for working with a family member, or they don’t understand why I quit a steady nine-to-five job to enter the uncertainty of self-employment, but my answer is always the same – I just thought it was normal.
As a kid growing up in Lamplugh I thought it was standard for parents to run their own businesses. My dad was (and still is) a self-employed accountant who worked at home every evening and my friends’ parents were farmers, butchers, ran B&Bs and owned shops. Ten-year-old me assumed it was commonplace for people to run businesses.
Fast forward 21 years and in Greater Manchester my self-employment is the minority. Most of our neighbours and friends work for big businesses, in schools or for the NHS.
Last week, I was excited to be invited to my old school in Keswick to talk about my career, starting my business and (of course) The Apprentice. I decided to test my theory about Cumbria being particularly entrepreneurial. I asked 150 teenagers if they thought they would work for a big company in an office when they grew up. Fewer than 10 hands were raised.This surprised and impressed me. I had asked the same question a week before at a school in Manchester and over half the room had put their hands up.
The difference? Maybe the Keswick School pupils are lucky enough to grow up in Cumbria and see more family-run or independent businesses instead of big chains and corporations? I might be totally wrong, but I know that growing up in Cumbria hugely influenced my career path. Here’s to Cumbria – maybe all that rain grows good entrepreneurs.