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It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. In a fast-changing world, a single idea can overturn an industry overnight. New businesses can grow faster than ever. Entrepreneurs are also becoming increasingly important to the global economy.
For example, entrepreneurs are creating jobs at more than twice the rate of established companies. In a new EY survey, 59 per cent of entrepreneurs around the world said they expected to increase their workforce in 2016. Among large businesses, only 28 per cent said they planned to expand their workforce this year.
Entrepreneurs drive innovation — often much more quickly than established competitors. Successful entrepreneurs, by definition, have figured out a way to do things better. They have challenged the status quo, asked tough questions and competed with established businesses. When an entirely new industry is created, the odds are that an entrepreneur is responsible.
When entrepreneurs are able to innovate like this, they drive economic growth and create jobs at an even faster rate. Surveying innovative entrepreneurs — those who created an entirely new product or service in the past year — we found they were 95 per cent more likely to increase their workforce over the next year, compared with those who were not as committed to innovation.
These numbers did not surprise us. They just confirmed what we have known for more than a century. Around the world, we are proud to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses and achieve their goals. This week, in recognition of the vital role they play in the global economy, we are holding the 16th annual EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monaco.
At this event, winners from 50 countries compete for the title of EY World Entrepreneur of the Year. Every one of them has created an impressive business, so it is not easy for our independent judging panel to select a winner. But in recognition of just how much impact the best entrepreneurs can have on the world, the panel relies on six criteria to guide the decision:
Entrepreneurial spirit: How have participants used perseverance and fresh thinking to overcome obstacles?
Global impact: What is their impact in terms of revenue, operations and influence?
Innovation: How do they anticipate and embrace change? Is there continuous improvement and innovation throughout the business?
Financial performance: What are participants’ current financial position, past record, and strategies for long-term growth and sustainability?
Strategic direction: How have finalists turned their visions into reality? What are their growth goals? How do they differentiate themselves?
Personal integrity and influence: What is the finalists’ record on corporate social responsibility? What impact have they had on the environment? Have they improved life in the wider community?
Ultimately, however, this week is not just about picking a winner. It is a chance to celebrate the success of so many businesspeople, share disruptive ideas and plan for the future. In an uncertain world, meetings like these are more important than ever. If we want economic growth, innovation and job creation, that conversation starts with entrepreneurs.
The author is global chairman and chief executive of EY