Accountants: 21st century business heroes?

Spring 2000 sees the launch of the National Enterprise Campaign. Co-ordinated by the British Chambers of Commerce with the support of other business organisations and backed by the government, the first aim of the campaign is to create a ‘cadre of business heroes’.

These heroes will be successful entrepreneurs and directors/managers from UK companies of all sizes who will spearhead activities to encourage enterprise throughout the country.

The campaign is seeking to encourage those who start with nothing – and who, in the past, thought they could never reach higher – that there is not only a chance to do better but there is no limit to their ambitions. The campaign wants to create a more entrepreneurial culture by transforming attitudes to developing new skills and encouraging the formation of new businesses.

We all know that a strong culture of enterprise is vital if Britain is to succeed in this global economy. For too long, business has easily fallen victim to politics where there has been mutual hostility and suspicion between capital and labour. But in the new service-driven economy of the 21st century those old battles should be consigned to history. It should be possible to create a climate where the problems and challenges of growing a business are recognised and where, in turn, those businesses recognise the contribution of their employees and suppliers.

As accountants crawl back to their desks after the Christmas and New Year break to face year-end and self-assessment deadlines, they may not feel particularly like heroes of enterprise. But they should consider what role they and their businesses could play in the campaign. Many accountants are not only highly successful entrepreneurs in their own right but they also spend their working lives helping other business people realise their commercial ambitions.

Some of Britain’s most successful enterprises over the last five decades of the 20th century were professional services firms which were founded, built up, and driven forward by accountants. The lack of a stock market quote and lack of glamour products has meant these organisations and individuals have never received the wider public acclaim they probably deserve.

The accountancy profession emerged from the Victorian age, an era that for all its faults did understand enterprise and commerce. At the dawn of the 21st century it would reassert the values and strengths of the accountancy profession if qualified accountants enthusiastically shared in promoting the value of enterprise.

If you would like to find out more about the National Enterprise Campaign e-mail:

Peter Williams is a freelance writer and director of Kato Publishing.

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