Tonight I shall be sitting on my sofa ready for a good old rant at the screen. Yes, The Apprentice is back. As a copywriter in Cornwall I get to work with lots of fantastic start-up and established businesses, and know that being an entrepreneur does not have to be about black suits and backstabbing.

When I first set up as a copywriter in Cornwall, I was surprised and pleased by the entrepreneurial attitude. Self-employment was a cultural norm here (see my earlier post, Controlling Remote).  Cornwall’s largest industry these days is tourism; and hospitality and tourism businesses by their very nature tend to be run as small, independent concerns.  I’ve written copy for Cornish guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and holiday lets.

But we’re doing more down here than feeding, watering and making beds for our visitors. At the school gates, I get a daily snapshot of this. Most of the parents seem to be self-employed or freelance. Artists, farmers, graphic designers, retailers, beauticians, musicians… (Some people must have “normal” jobs, surely?) I’m copywriting for two young Cornish companies at the moment (more about them in a later blog) who make me feel humble with their talents, business brains and their sheer bonkers amount of energy.

A while ago, I was lucky to have a project on Scilly (as I quickly learned to call those beautiful isles), and met some incredibly motivated and switched-on entrepreneurs. Everybody I met seemed to run their own businesses, some in their early twenties, others managing small companies while juggling multiple kids and school runs involving boats. When I expressed my delight in this buoyant business community, everyone shrugged. “It’s what you have to do here. It’s not as if there’s lots of big employers.”  Necessity meets creativity, and that’s a factor across Cornwall, not just on Scilly.

Being an entrepreneur does not mean you have to carry a briefcase and stalk around London overusing “going forward”.  Remote locations breed their own brand of business folk. In flip-flops.


*In Cornwall in 2011, 25% of workers were employed in tourism and tourism-related businesses. In far west Cornwall where I live and write, it’s 31%. For those of you who like stats, have a look at Visit Cornwall’s report on the value of tourism to the Duchy.