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Judge Interview: Rachel Bridge

When it comes to celebrating successful entrepreneurs and business owners one lady who knows all about it is Rachel Bridge. Following a highly successful career as a business journalist Rachel has gone on to publish several books focusing on entrepreneurs and their success stories.

Chief amongst several highly successful titles is her first book, How I Made It: 40 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal How They Made Millions, which looks at the success stories of forty highly successful, yet not so well known, entrepreneurs. Since then Rachel has written several more books, all along the theme of entrepreneurship and entrepreneur success, and will be joining the judging panel for the 2013 Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

We caught up with her to discuss the awards, as well as get her thoughts on what makes a successful entrepreneur in today’s business world.

Great British Entrepreneur Awards: Rachel, do you think we, as a nation, celebrate business success enough?

Rachel Bridge: Not always. However, I think it’s always good to celebrate success, and actually it’s always nice to see new faces. Hopefully these awards will bring out some new businesses and new faces to inspire the rest of the nation.

GBEA: Do you think business confidence would improve from greater recognition?

RB: Yes, I definitely think so. I think sometimes people don’t realise what an amazing thing they have done, or what amazing business they have created. Sometimes they can’t see how fantastic their story is. So I think it’s about reminding entrepreneurs that they have a great story and that those stories are inspirational to others. That’s why I write my books and columns, about successful entrepreneurs. Other people take great inspiration from success stories, and, more than anything, they see that it can be done.

GBEA: In your opinion, what makes a successful entrepreneur?

RB: First and foremost you have got to really want to do it. You can’t be half hearted about it. You need to put your heart and soul into it. You have to recognise that you can’t do everything, and therefore you must be able to ask for help and expertise in areas where you are not so strong. I also think that you need to be flexible and accept that the idea you have in the first place might not be the idea that you end up with. You have to be flexible and prepare to change as the business develops. Follow where the idea leads you. On that note, you have to be very aware of who is going to buy your product or service. It is no use having a wealth of ideas that have no target audience.

GBEA: How important are entrepreneurs to the economy?

RB: Incredibly important. They provide the spark really. They are the inspiring spark that gets us going. I think it makes for a very vibrant atmosphere. Spending time with entrepreneurs and talking to them is exciting and there is so much energy. It is very powerful that excitement and ‘can do’ attitude’, and we can’t get enough of it. That sort of spirit is good not only for other business, but for the economy and society as a whole.

GBEA: Are there enough role models for inspiring entrepreneurs, away from the ‘celebrity entrepreneurs’?

RB: Well, and I don’t mean to go on about what I do, but that is what I have chosen to do. I write about the businesses and people that not many people have heard of. My ‘How I Made it Book’ focuses on forty entrepreneurs who, at the time the book was written, were largely unheard of. Most of my books are filled with very successful entrepreneurs that very few people have heard of. And yes, I think it is vitally important that we celebrate the so-called ordinary people who have had great success in business. I actually think they are much more inspiring and much more approachable than the celebrity entrepreneurs, that we all know the names of, who people think are a bit too remote and far away from their own experiences to be able to relate to. There are huge numbers of successful entrepreneurs in this country, who people have never heard of, quietly getting on with it and achieving brilliant things. The more recognition they get, the better.

GBEA: And finally, what made you take on a judging role with the Great British Entrepreneur Awards?

RB: As I mentioned before, I think its very important to celebrate success amongst entrepreneurs. Particularly to dig out the success stories that are going on very quietly, and that nobody has heard of. I really hope that these awards will go a long way to bringing out the stories and achievements of people who are not that well known, but ultimately are hugely important in growing businesses, employing people and providing opportunities to others. If we can do that I think it will be fantastic.