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Ego is the enemy of entrepreneurs

Originally featured on Fresh Business Thinking


“You must be supremely confident in yourself, your ability and your business, but that shouldn’t be to your detriment. Ego is the enemy,” sayJodie Cook, a judge for the Creative Industries Entrepreneur Awards category with the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

We asked her “What effect are TV shows such as the Apprentice and Dragon’s Den have on creating an entrepreneurial culture?”

Jodie: “The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den have done a great job of elevating the profile of the business world amongst the general population. Dragons’ Den, especially, is a concept that children can understand; coming up with an idea, selling the product or service, then securing investment to sell more. So that’s great.

However, the cutthroat nature of the business side of these shows, especially in the Apprentice, shows business people in a bad light. Lord Sugar, the apprentices and the Dragons are all caricature portrayals of businesspeople, not the budding entrepreneurs that exist in the real world. I don’t think these shows help to inspire people to start a business and I certainly don’t think they contribute to a positive attitude towards wealth and entrepreneurship.

Who is your entrepreneur hero?

Jodie: “My mum is my entrepreneurial role model. Her father was a businessman in the machine tools industry, too. I certainly learned to address challenges positively and be resourceful and independent from her from a very young age. In the business world, I think Arianna Huffington is a fantastic role model and I love the work of Daniel Priestley.”

What is the single most important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur?

Jodie: “Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes so whilst there are traits that are common in a lot of entrepreneurs, I don’t think there’s any single characteristic that runs through all of them. Having said this, I think the one characteristic I value and see most often in the entrepreneurs I regard as successful is humility. No matter where you are in your journey, don’t ever think that you deserve more, that you’ve just had bad luck or that you’re above anything or anyone. You must be supremely confident in yourself, your ability and your business, but that shouldn’t be to your detriment. Ego is the enemy.”

How can schools do more to create a more entrepreneurial culture?

Jodie: “It’s hard for schools to break from the curriculum so teachers have to be creative in how they teach traditional subjects. Having discreet enterprise sessions in PSHE or in after-schools clubs is great to get direct exposure to business principles, but there is scope to address it in core subjects like maths. Critical thinking is a key concept for teachers looking to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset. Encouraging children to think creatively about a solution and seeking alternatives is brilliant for the problem-solving mind, which is what entrepreneurs do each day. Helping children learn from their new mistakes rather than chastising them is important too, because we make mistakes when we’re trying something we’re not sure we can do.”

Fore more seen this TEDx talk at TEDx Aston University, she has some interesting ideas on how we can foster a more entrepreneurial  spirit.

Watch creating useful people below:

Find the Clever Tykes storybooks here.

The UK is emerging an entrepreneurial success story – but more needs to be done, and one way to achieve this is to shine the media spotlight on entrepreneurs, their challenges, their failures and of course their successes.


The NatWestGreat British Entrepreneur Awards are currently open for applications, and entrants can apply here.