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Charlie Mullins: Creating an army of like-minded entrepreneurs

It doesn’t matter if it’s an entrepreneur like me, who started with just a bag of tools and a battered old van, or someone like QPR footballer Charlie Austin who’s gone from playing non-league to Premier League in a handful of seasons; we all love a good story about people who beat the odds to succeed.
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But you shouldn’t have to be well-known to have your achievements, hard work and commitment recognised. That’s why I got behind #MicroBizMattersDay at the end of last week.

We’re bombarded with special “days” to raise awareness of all sorts of things. Some are worthy, like those related to health conditions, while others, like “Talk like a pirate day”, are just plain barmy. 

But I think the drive, creativity and talent of micro business owners, deserve some attention and, to be frank, respect.

#MicroBizMattersDay took place last Friday to celebrate the 4.5m UK businesses that employ between zero and nine people, and highlight the contribution independent business owners and the self-employed make to the economy, job creation and community.

It asked business owners of all sizes, and the public, to give up nine minutes, to represent the zero to nine employees of micro firms, to show their support and do something positive for our smallest enterprises.

The day gave people an opportunity to also help make life better for micro enterprise owners everywhere – whether it was from selling to the public, encouraging businesses to build relationships and place orders with micro enterprises or getting support and advice from successful entrepreneurs.

The organisers, Enterprise Rockers, asked me, along with other mentors like Bright Ideas Trust founder, Tim Campbell and the organisation’s own co-founder Tony Robinson to take part in Google Hangouts streamed live online throughout the day.

It was really interesting and another great way to help inspire micro business owners and give them the plaudits they deserve for being the vertebrae that make up the economic backbone of the UK.

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It really took me back to the early days of Pimlico Plumbers (and before) when I set out on my own. It was a daunting and sometimes downright scary time, but I was confident I could make it happen. 

And through bloody-mindedness, hard work, support from the right people and, at the right time, delegation to talented employees, I have built a strong and successful business.  

Talking to micro firm owners last week I could really empathise with the challenges they face, but also share in the excitement of being responsible for creating something out of almost nothing.

There is no better feeling than taking that journey, which begins with becoming self-employed and continues with such milestones as finding premises, taking on staff and turning a profit.  

If we can inspire more people to consider this route, and encourage more people to trade with small businesses, the country will have a stronger, diverse and more robust economy led by an army of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Image: Shutterstock

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About Author

Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins, also an OBE, is the archetypal entrepreneur – having started his business from scratch and then building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. From humble beginnings growing up on an estate in South London, he left school with no qualifications, but after a four-year plumbing apprenticeship he started his own firm, Pimlico Plumbers, which now generates a turnover in excess of £30m and boasts many well-known names among its many clients including Simon Cowell, Helen Mirren and Richard Branson. He has been a regular contributor on Real Business since 2011 and is particularly about apprenticships.

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