Although a successful international business cannot be run by one person alone, I always feel that an inspirational and recognisable founder or leader can work wonders for a brand’s profile in the public consciousness.
Sir Richard Branson and Virgin, Steve Jobs and Apple, Bill Gates and Microsoft, Lord Sugar and Amstrad - no matter how huge a company might become, if there’s a charismatic or eccentric ‘auteur’ at the helm, it adds a personal touch that is lacking from so many other indelible household name brands. So I do think it’s something of a shame that Michelle Mone has resigned from the board of Ultimo, the lingerie and swimwear company she founded in 1996 and built up from scratch to become a multi-million pound concern.
Okay, so as these successful business people progress from struggling underdogs to multi-millionaires, they become more distant and harder to relate to for the average Joe or Joanna in the street. But everyone loves a ‘rags to riches’ story and no matter where they end up, the fact that so many of the best-known business people started out just like the rest of us - with nothing but ambition - tends to provide a little bit of inspiration for the aspiring entrepreneur. These people are visible reminders that the individual can excel; that a small acorn of an idea can grow into a mighty oak and that not every multinational business has to be faceless, soulless and lacking in character.
It might end up that way, of course, but the fact that it started out with one person’s vision will never cease to inspire those who also have a dream.