Opinion: Britain must nurture its IT entrepreneurs

First Tuesday founder Julie Meyer argues that it is a great time to be an entrepreneur working with technology, with the internet offering a ready-made, fast-track gateway to an unrivalled user base.

The list of high-profile and successful modern day entrepreneurs is almost endless - Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Eric Baker, or Martin Stiksel, Richard Jones and Felix Miller. It is a great time to be an entrepreneur working with technology. The internet has proven to be a powerful platform for entrepreneurship. It is a ready-made, fast-track gateway to an unrivalled user base.

Put simply, the internet is a great low-cost environment to test ideas and turn them into a lucrative business.

So what makes those modern day entrepreneurs different to the rest of us?

They have a desire to succeed and to break out of the nine-to-five routine. They know that the buck stops with them, and sometimes hits them smack bang on their forehead.

They think differently and feel compelled to make things happen because something does not exist that they believe should.

Sometimes this can take the form of blind faith that leads to catastrophe. But sometimes it can lead to a step change in how an industry operates.

Entrepreneurs are not afraid to fail, and learn from their mistakes. Failure, more so in the US, is seen as a key component of future success.

They understand technology. Some of today's entrepreneurs would have been stereotyped as geeks a few years ago, but some could not write code if they tried. What unites them is an understanding of what technology can do and, more importantly, how future users might use it. They are positive people: where some would see obstacles they see possibilities.

Entrepreneurship is about taking a leap of faith it is not for the faint-hearted.

It is about persisting, and ultimately about taking total accountability for a company and your life - the good, the bad and the ugly.

British business should be looking to innovate, to keep up with the challenges from increased global competition and attract as much of this "magical" entrepreneurial DNA into their four walls as possible.

Having contributed to the Developing the Future report - along with the likes of Microsoft, the Work Foundation, Digby Jones, the British Computer Society and Intellect - it is clear to me that entrepreneurial spirit is critical to the long term success of Britain.

However, the UK is still feudal in many regards. A large segment of society still argues for the master/slave relationship - the employer/employee relationship - although the individual revolution brought about by the internet is busting these outmoded relationships wide open.

With this in mind, it is not surprising to hear that some of the finest entrepreneurs have gone elsewhere to build their dreams.

The UK needs to foster the best entrepreneurs and ensure that our greatest talent does not go overseas.

Developing the Future report >>

Invitation to innovate >>

Unsung heroes of the IT industry >>

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