If the Government wants us to be more entrepreneurial, maybe they should start by looking at their own back yard!
The government wants us to be more entrepreneurial as a country - a great idea. Entrepreneurs represent the engine of our economy and the likely solution to our economic woes. However, if the government wants us all to become more entrepreneurial then they should start looking at their own back yard - the public sector.
I lead an interesting business life - I run POD Point - a rapidly growing entrepreneurial company developing electric vehicle charging points. Through this business we have had great success selling our products and technologies to customers in both the public and private sectors, and in doing so, I get a unique view of how the public sector differs from entrepreneurial life in the private sector. And it is all about change.
It is one of the founding principles of entrepreneurs that you must like change - why would someone setup their own venture if they didn't see something which they felt they could change? Change is the underlying requirement of new business. Business thrives on change. Never is a business plan thought up, and executed, leading to the exact results the entrepreneur predicted - the world doesn't work like that. What happens, is that an entrepreneur starts to execute an idea, and constantly changes those plans to allow him or her to meet the business objectives. It is inherent if you want to win in business.
Now let us turn our attention to the public sector, and specifically an area I know particularly well - the electric vehicle market. The government has set its self some bold targets to encourage the adoption of Electric Vehicles - a £5k subsidy on new electric cars, and Plugged in Places - an initiative to help install electric vehicle charging points throughout the country. Both great ideas, and required if we are to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels, and start to address our carbon foot prints.
But these initiatives are falling well behind plan - we're not buying Electric Vehicles fast enough, and there are not enough charging points being installed - but it isn't a disaster - the projects just need a bit of change. To anyone in business it would be obvious - we're not meeting targets, so we have to change.
What can we do? - Well many things - if a 50% subsidy on charge points isn't working, why not try 100% subsidy on half as many, if a £5k vehicle subsidy is not working, why not change that to £4k and spend the remainder enabling EV drivers to use bus lanes, and park for free in town centres? Or how about using the subsidy money to guarantee second hand car values instead of an upfront discount (giving new car buyers more peace of mind amidst expensive battery replacement scares). Would these changes get us back on track? I don't know for sure, but if the current plan is not getting us where we need to be, then we have to change – re-assess, and then change again.
How else can we succeed?
This is the fundamental approach taken by entrepreneurs to build successful business, and we need to encourage it in the public sector. How? Well we, the public have to change - the future is unknown, and we can't predict it right every time but we have to encourage change within the public sector, and in parallel with that, accept that sometimes changes make things worse, but if we subscribe to change, when an error is made, we will have empowered our government to make another change, and make things better.
About the Author
Erik Fairbairn is the CEO of POD Point, the UK’s leading provider of electric vehicle software and hardware. For more information visit http://www.pod-point.com