The CEO of FTSE 100 accounting software giant Sage says he wants to provide a voice for millennial entrepreneurs in Brexit negotiations and is disappointed that the post-EU referendum conversation has been all about big business.
Stephen Kelly told Business Insider: “The economy depends on a vibrant small and medium business sector to create the jobs and create the prosperity required. We will continue to actively make the government and policy makers aware of the concerns of SME business owners.”
Kelly, 54, says he also want to provide a specific voice for young entrepreneurs — those in the so-called “millennial” generation.
He told BI: “To your point about Brexit, we’d love to be part of the community that can represent the voice and amplify the voice of individuals born since 1983. They’re important to the economy now, but they will be even more important. These will be the businesses that will be growing the fastest and they will create the majority of new jobs and prosperity.”
Kelly is a business ambassador to David Cameron and has close links to government. Prior to joining Sage as CEO in 2014 he was COO of the coalition government, which took power in 2010.
Newcastle-headquartered Sage, which is worth £6.7 billion ($8.8 billion), provides accounting and payroll software for small businesses.
Kelly says: “It’s all about big business, though. Even after Brexit, the day after, it was JPMorgan, HSBC, Morgan Stanley — the guys who are creating two-thirds of the jobs out there are the entrepreneurs and these small and medium-sized businesses.”
Brexit has not changed anything for Sage, with Kelly saying: “I think what’s important for us and lots of business leaders is just to get back to what you’re there for and what the essence of your business is about. It’s about looking after your customers and your employees and connecting the two to drive better outcomes for everybody.”
Kelly was speaking ahead of the publication on Tuesday of “Walk With Me,” a survey of millennial entrepreneurs around the world. Sage surveyed 7,400 young business owners aged between 18 and 34 across 16 countries.
The report identifies 5 types of millennial entrepreneurs:
- “The Principled Planners,” who are ambitious, methodical entrepreneurs keen to make a difference to society.
- “The Driven Techies,” who trust tech over people and want to share their ideas with the world.
- “The Instinctive Explorers,” Richard Branson-types who follow their gut and want to get rich quick then retire.
- “The Real Worlders,” a practical mix of the Principled Planner and the Instinctive Explorer.
- “The Thrill-Seekers,” easily bored people looking for the next adventure and challenge.
The report also found:
- 62% of millennial entrepreneurs don’t worry about keeping up with technology;
- 62% say they’d sacrifice profit to stay true to their ideals;
- 63% think they will start more than one business;
- 34% say they started their business to be master of their own destiny, 24% to turn their ideas into reality, and 21% to make money.
Kelly says: “The takeaway number 1 is they are absolutely not a homogeneous group. They have distinct drivers. Secondly, the values that they espouse in their business careers are really valued.
“I think up until now everybody’s thought that this was a generation focused on skateboards and Snapchat. The reality is a bit of a wake-up call. These are individuals with a heart.”