Opinion

Obama's victory and what it means for UK business

5 min read

07 November 2012

Returned to office after a gruelling two years on the road, Obama is on top of the world. But what does it means for UK businesses?

In the event, the Electoral College disguised just how close the popular vote was. This, the tightest of margins, gives Obama not only four more years at the White House but that sweetest of things, victory.

On the TV this morning a panoply of dramatic human emotion. From magnanimous winners to graceful losers, from bitterness to elation; it’s all been there for everyone to view. It’s been brilliant to watch so many people who give a damn, who really care about who governs.

In Britain, Romney never really made it into the nation’s heart. Even among business audiences, the tribe from which he came, a group that should have got him, not really much of a flicker.

In the end, I think we all succumbed to the seduction of hope, the romance of the future, and the generosity of spirit of a big-hearted America. On that turf it was Obama’s to win all the way.

And as the President returns to the Oval Office he takes up the reins of the greatest entrepreneurial nation on the planet.

A nation that has produced countless business dynasties, which have been the backbone of cities and communities all over the States. Want the proof, then look at the phenomenal contribution of the DuPont family to education, the Gates’s to world health, the Chryslers to New York, or look at the role of the Ford family to the regeneration of Detroit.

A nation that has inspired Google to go for it, Apple to branch out with brilliance all over the world, and Facebook to bring people together around the planet in ways that the United Nations could only dream about.

Saying all that, even in this hour of victory, there remains a lurking doubt, especially within business circles about whether Obama actually gets business. It’s certainly not his heartland. He made a passing reference to entrepreneurs in his acceptance speech but I would imagine that many might have liked something a touch more dramatic (as his speech was full of flourishes).

Perhaps he could have positioned entrepreneurs as the new American gladiator class fighting in the arena of economic recovery. One gnarled old veteran, Donald Trump, certainly feels overlooked. He called on Twitter this morning for a ‘revolution’ and to not accept the result. But in a sign of accepting the tide of change he soon took the Tweet down.

I listened to Obama’s victory speech from beginning to end. My goodness he’s good. Brilliant oratory, a peculiar blend of everything and nothing tied together with the most superb delivery of any leader on the planet today.

One of his tracts really spoke to me: “America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.”

So, it’s not what can be done for you, but by you. That’s a message that should speak to every entrepreneur that has had the courage to build their own business; every person that has left the safety of a job to join a start up; it speaks to the bravery of confronting an uncertain future with endeavor.

This morning is a fabulous showcase for America. It’s a timely reminder of the enduring appeal of America; a nation that continues to thrill, excite and inspire those in life who want something better, those with the ambition not to be contained by convention, those with the urge to go for it.

Michael Hayman is co-founder of the the public relations firm Seven Hills, a co-founder of the national campaign for entrepreneurs StartUp Britain, and Chairman of MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival