Small businesses are best

Paul Barry-Walsh is one of Britain’s most successful IT entrepreneurs, who built up (and sold for £170m) the computer security and outsourcing business, Safetynet.

Instead of buying a yacht and fine-tuning his golf swing, Barry-Walsh has become probably the most prolific individual lender to micro-businesses in the UK, through his Fredericks Foundation. More than 500 financially disadvantaged people have been loaned money by the foundation over the past six years.

We were particularly struck by Barry-Walsh’s view that the small business is the perfect economic model and one which will proliferate in the future. “In a small business, every person matters and feels as if their contribution makes a difference," Barry-Walsh told Real Business. "In a big business, nobody really matters, even the chief executive.”

Barry-Walsh is also deeply disgruntled about the muddled "target culture" thinking he witnesses in the public sector. “I met a local authority IT director who said he had to meet 158 different targets.," he says. "It’s madness! When you’re running a business, you measure three or four key performance indicators. Why do you think a car only has a speedometer and a couple of dials?!”

You can read much more about Paul Barry-Walsh in next month’s Real Business.

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