From entrepreneur to export-preneur

It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur.  In 2014, the UK was named Europe’s most entrepreneurial economy, and is currently fourth in the world[1]. The country’s innovative spirit, coupled with a unique approach to business and services has helped its global ranking increase steadily over recent years, with performance now at peak levels.

Nowadays, there are numerous initiatives aimed at inspiring and motivating the younger generations to explore entrepreneurship, something that wasn’t available when I was growing up. That’s precisely why I’m a vociferous advocate of nurturing and developing entrepreneurial skills, be that through my own work with local schools and enterprise programs or by offering training courses across various departments in Mash Direct.

Our involvement in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) in Ireland in particular has proved to be a great team building exercise for the business, which has been a nice bonus to an already worthwhile project. Devised in partnership with educational institutions and entrepreneurs, JEP provides a platform through which 10 and 11 year olds come up with business ideas which are then presented to local business ‘Dragons’. The staff enjoy working with and mentoring the pupils to develop their business ideas into practical projects, and we’ve had great feedback from the teachers. The programme has a significant personal development impact on participating pupils, building confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem, and an appreciation of individual skills and talents. It’s great to be able to play a small part in influencing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow!

Looking at the bigger picture, one thing that we’ve come to understand is that entrepreneurial success is underpinned by an appreciation of the British export market. At Mash Direct, we feel incredibly strongly about bringing currency home. We are not in a position to depend on the insular economy, so as business people, it’s vital to grow a spine and get on planes and trains to meet with buyers abroad. In that way, entrepreneurs and SMEs can make their mark as the backbone of the British economy through innovation and speed to market. Being your own boss means you can make the rules when it comes to international trade, by working dynamically and flexibly to export quickly and boost business in the process.

With support from the government, trade bodies and regional business development agencies, we have become just one of many UK food and drink producers that have been able to make a positive contribution to the overall growth of the industry. British produce is now being enjoyed in 150 countries around the world[2], with 2,500 companies selling home-grown food overseas. This is something to be celebrated – and a fact that should motivate newer businesses and startups.

By getting out there and broadening our own horizons in the international business market, we have been able to innovate and expand at a much quicker rate than originally anticipated. There literally is a world of opportunity out there for the taking, and I strongly feel that budding entrepreneurs should take inspiration from the UK’s burgeoning export figures to proceed with positivity, confidence and resilience.

[1] Imperial, November 2014

[2], October 2014

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