There are a lot of lessons and parallels to be learnt from Entrepreneurial Recovery Victorian Style Over the weekend I watched the BBC Documentary Why Did the Industrial Revolution Start in Britain
Professor Jeremy Black gave us a real treat and a key lesson that changes in thinking and thinking differently from other countries can make a huge difference to economic wellbeing.
Jeremy showed brilliantly that Britain’s Victorian success was based on a very, very different approach to entrepreneurialism and innovation compared to France. But there was a well-documented dark-side too. No way out for slaves or poor workers. So in 2017 we have parallels to entrepreneurial recovery Victorian style and more joined up thinking and attitudes are needed:-
- Repeating the Victorian liberal approach to entrepreneurialism
- Realising debt is modern day slavery to be abhorred
- Despite Dickensian stories, Victorians did bounce back after bankruptcy and entrepreneurial failure. None other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel was in fact a Bouncepreneur.
So once again I say to those whose businesses have failed “Lift your head entrepreneur – it is not over yet!”
I call on government and development agencies to adopt the Bouncepreneur Charter to assist entrepreneurs who have failed recover.
Professor Black’s Documentary educated me in a number of ways.
Britain became the mightiest industrial empire in the world in the 19th Century producing half its iron and two-thirds of its coal.
The reasons were in 18th century a commitment to the new, ideas, processes, resources, ideas and people. This took Britain into a new world of productivity and energy.
The boom in the mid-19th century was not driven by large businesses. Typically firms in the mid-century employed about 50 workers. Most of whom were not high tech for their day. Much industry was small scale, oriented towards niche rather than mass markets.
The three main reasons for the Industrial Revolution happening in Britain were:-
- Geological good fortune
- Ascendancy of political liberalism and enlightened thinking, including entrepreneurial recovery Victorian style
- Imperial power
These three factors meant the industrial revolution was more likely to begin in Britain than elsewhere. The industrial revolution happened here because the conditions were right here to guarantee sustained success.
The show also touched on three other key topics which I would like to sharpen a little more:-
Firstly slavery, the programme showed the massive wealth created from the slave trade. But for me the wretched conditions of those 2.5 million poor Africans was abhorrent to any civilised person living in 2017. We saw an appalling cell, where slaves lived and died with no hope of a way out. In 2017 there might not be iron shackles but we still have entrepreneurs and others locked out from mainstream society.
Secondly the very poor living conditions of people working in polluted, cramped cities, with terrible working conditions and again no hope of a way out. Enforce poverty leads to misery, crime and hopelessness as much today as in Victorian times
Thirdly, bankruptcy rates were actually very high in Victorian England. Despite our view of the Poor House and social stigma beliefs we have grown accustomed to in Dickens. The reality was very different with leading industrialists we still know today coming back from failed projects. Isambard Kingdom Brunel himself backed a project called the Atmospheric Railway. After massive energy and investment the project failed and Brunel was disgraced. Who has heard of the Atmospheric Railway? But I bet you have heard of SS Great Britain, the Great Western Railway or the Box Tunnel which revolutionised bridge building.
Small family firms dominated over large partnerships or shareholdings. Such firms were often unable to borrow from banks. They instead drew upon trusted relatives and friends often within religious groupings. Non-conformists, Quakers and Jews in particular, were prominent amongst entrepreneurs. Personal loans and family finance were often more important than the formal institutions of the capital market, such as banks and mortgage brokers.
Entrepreneurial recovery Victorian style
To summarise this entrepreneurial recovery Victorian style blog consider these points as we fight to change our whole approach to business failure.
- Fresh Approach – the industrial revolution happened in Britain because of a liberal approach to innovation.
- Good People Made Things Better – the 18th and 19th centuries had a rotten core of slavery, poverty and lack of ways out, but good people with new ways of thinking like Wilberforce (abolitionist) and the Earl of Shaftsbury (ended child labour) came along to end such practices.
- Bouncepreneurs Were a Victorian Phenomenon – It is surprising how many of the great Victorian innovators our children learn about at school were actually business failures who came back from disasters. They were Bouncepreneurs – Isambard Kingdom Brunel no less.
Entrepreneurial recovery Victorian style was written by Michael Allen Founder Bouncepreneurs with thanks to Professor Jeremy Black and the BBC.
Bouncepreneurs the Book
“Bouncepreneurs Successfully Bounce Back After Business Failure” now available on Amazon Kindle