Where is the next Branson? 

As great as Richard Branson has been for championing entrepreneurship in the UK, it can't be right that he still remains this country's epitome of the successful, independent businessman.

There were over 260 responses to SmallBusiness.co.uk’s latest poll on the most inspirational success stories from the world of business. Branson’s Virgin came top with 43 per cent, followed by Steve Job’s Apple (17 per cent), while Alan Sugar’s Amstrad mustered 4 per cent.

In the UK, we’re still lacking that next generation of mega successful entrepreneurs. Julie and Steve Pankhurst became millionaires through their website Friends Reunited, but across the pond Mark Zuckerberg took social networking to the next level with Facebook. He’s a billionaire at the age 26.

At a conference not so long ago, the chairman of an online business from China told the audience: ‘Where are your new, successful entrepreneurs? Whenever you talk about entrepreneurs in the UK, all I hear is Richard Branson. Who is the next Branson?’

It’s a fair point. Perhaps it’s a cultural, British thing. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a huge amount of risk or even a stigma associated with starting your own business. Why put yourself on the line when you can train to become an accountant, teacher or go and work for a law firm?

Nowadays these professions don’t seem quite as secure. At long last, we might get some fresher entrepreneurial faces coming on the scene as younger people realise they have nothing to lose by registering a business with Companies House. After all, they could just as easily spend thousands of pounds training for a career that never really happens.

The UK’s triumvirate of successful entrepreneurs – namely Branson, Sugar and James Dyson – all started their business before the age of 25. A recent survey showed that many students graduating over the next couple of years plan to start a business rather than become a salaried employee.

So maybe it won’t be too long before Branson can step down from the entrepreneurial throne and someone else can be the point of reference for showing others how it can be done.

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