It baffles me that the immigration debate in Britain always focuses on how much it costs to bring in immigrants, rather than how much they offer back. Right now in the US, for example, 60% of the top technology businesses have migrant founders. Can we in Britain really afford to risk turning away the next Sergey Brin?
Many of the people who ask my initial question clearly believe there is, but - while it shouldn't come as a surprise that as a young entrepreneur I'll be fighting the corner of the youth view - for me, dismissing the ambitions and prospects of a budding entrepreneur purely because of their age or corporate experience is at best, shortsighted, and at worst, a view rooted in envy.
Every start up business aims to be the most innovative, the most successful, the fastest growing - to be the best. I personally don't believe that a start up can do any of the above without running a business in an area you are passionate about. I believe that there are 3 reasons for this:
There's a profound little trick you can do, and it will always unhook you from that negativity so you can think creatively. (And chances are your clientele and competitors are feeling just as confused and afraid, so if you can master it, you have a distinct advantage.)
I am a firm believer that there is no more exciting place to work than a new and developing firm. If you are somebody who enjoys a challenge and are capable of adapting, moving to an SME can be a terrific opportunity at any stage of your career.
I've been saying for a while now that I believe there has never been a better time to start up in business, so it's great to see that others agree. And not just anyone, but one of the world's greatest entrepreneurs, head of Virgin Richard Branson.
I've always been competitive. I was a keen sportsperson and loved the feeling winning gave me - even when we played family games around the kitchen table, I hated losing. I've taken this competitive spirit into my life as an entrepreneur...
You absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. Anything to the contrary is nonsense. There'll always be those who point to age as a reason not to try something new, but this is terrible advice. When the entrepreneurial bug bites, age should be no barrier.
A new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Micro Business has called for better integration of entrepreneurial skills at all levels of education. It's a good report that suggests combining the best of Government, academia, the business community and charitable initiatives to achieve a coordinated programme.
In the last year alone one in five small business owners has turned to the bank of 'friends and family' for start-up capital, and almost three quarters launched their new business ventures with working capital of £2,000 or less.
Nowadays I invest primarily in people who want to do what I did - become their own boss. I'm a firm believer that if you are prepared to put the effort in, there is no reason why you can't successfully run your own business... Technology has since come on leaps and bounds, which means you can access data and generate leads like never before. And the advent of social media means that building a brand and marketing yourself has become that little bit easier.
I first saw David Bowie in Torquay in 1972, in a venue for 500 people with tickets costing £1.50. It changed my life. Forty years later I'm still struck by his youthful talent, innovation and longevity. He created a revolutionary sound and style building on the best offerings of the 1960s London artistic scene.
Now we have all settled into the new year, I thought its time to take a slightly different look at business, and reflects a little of the fun side ... something and which I hope will make you laugh.
Many in the business world trivialize the arts as an optional extra. They think of the arts as 'soft' and tiptoe around artists they imagine to be fragile, weak or prima donnas. But they've got it all wrong. Successful artists are the most tough-minded people I know, able to contain and manage uncertainty, risk and experiment.
I suppose nowadays it does not come as a complete surprise when we hear that there's another banking scandal brewing. If its not that most investment banks have been expecting interns and other junior employees to work in excess of 70 hours a week, it will be someone like RBS forcing viable businesses to the wall for its own corporate gain.
It is estimated Labour would get around £1billion annually, which in tax terms is peanuts. The National Health Service alone, for example, soaks up more than £100billion - and rising - despite 'efficiency savings'. So why do it? The answer is probably to provide electoral cover for more widespread tax rises if Labour wins the next election.