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Rockstar entrepreneurs need rockstar cities

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Entrepreneurs are the rockstars of the business world – disruptive innovators that seek out new challenges and dare to take a leap into the unknown. 

Above all else, they have one unifying trait: the will to win. Across the world, they are working to create wealth, and as our economy stutters into 2012, there has never been a more crucial time to take inspiration from these headline acts. 

This is a challenging year to be in business. Facing jeopardy, disruption and change, those leading companies will have to adapt to survive and there is no better exemplar of how to do this than an entrepreneur. 

My job, as CEO of the economic development company for Liverpool, has its own challenges and cities, like businesses, must learn lessons from these entrepreneurs – a drive to succeed and “can-do” attitude that lies behind Sir Richard Branson’s mantra “screw it, let’s do it”. 

Cities are key to driving the economy of this country, and in this city the leadership embraces and demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit.

There is a great similarity between a successful start-up and a winning city. In both cases, the need to dare, share and care are crucial to sustained success. Leaders of businesses and cities alike must show bravery – by daring to dream they will inspire a workforce, or a population to achieve success. 

They must care – listen to their stakeholders and be aware that in our current climate, when “moral capitalism” is the order of the day, only those that do good can do well.

Importantly, they must both instil a culture of sharing. Knowledge, power and opportunity are key in transforming a fledgling idea into a high-growth, job and wealth creating company. A city must create an environment that attracts talent, cultivates knowledge and shares experience in the same way a business should.

Over the last 15 years, there has been an enormous economic renaissance in Liverpool. I believe that there is a creative and entrepreneurial spirit in the city, but there is still more to be done. 

The majority of job creation comes from young, growing companies. Liverpool is currently several thousand startup businesses behind the UK average but we’re tackling this challenge head on and are taking steps to close this gap.

In March, Liverpool has been awarded the opportunity to play host to thousands of entrepreneurs as part of the prestigious Global Entrepreneurship Congress, hosted by the Kauffman Foundation.  

We are offering Liverpool as a stage to some of the world’s most inspiring rockstar business leaders – Sir Richard Branson, Sir Terry Leahy, Lara Morgan and Martha Lane Fox among others, providing businesses with the tools, mentoring and networking opportunities they need to start and grow their business.

No business leader should be too wise to learn and it is critical for Liverpool that we continue to do so to help develop an entrepreneurial culture within the city. We are focusing efforts on supporting startup companies and attracting investment.

We must inspire every aspiring entrepreneur, especially in our younger generation to believe and to make the leap. We must create the climate and conditions to allow more businesses to start up and we must improve the survival rates of startups to drive growth.

People tasked with helping to drive their city forward have a responsibility to help young businesses to grow and this is a challenge I am willing to take.

Max Steinberg is CEO of Liverpool Vision, co-hosts of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in Liverpool in March. 

You can find more information on the Global Entrepreneurship Congress here.

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