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Is the UK a nation of shopkeepers, asks Nwes business consultant in King's Lynn

By Lynn News Reporter

When Napoleon apparently said we were 'une nation de boutiquiers' (a nation of shopkeepers), some suggest he was referring to the UK being unprepared for war!

I prefer to think what he spotted was that we’re pretty entrepreneurial this side of the water, says Paul Gardner, business consultant at NWES.

In 2016 according to the OECD around 23 per cent of working men and women were self-employed in the UK compared to under 14 per cent in France. That’s because in the UK we have a healthy appetite for working for ourselves.

Starting a new business usually means a completely different way of life. Gone are the days of demotivating corporate structures and predictable 9 to 5s. Instead you can make your mark, do what you enjoy and build your own future.

The rewards come from hard work, commitment and careful planning – even a little luck now and then.

Paul Gardner, of Nwes. (5074907)
Paul Gardner, of Nwes. (5074907)

However knowing the risks and taking care of some basic housekeeping can make the difference between success and failure. So our monthly free two-day First Steps to Start Up programme at KLIC in Lynn will guide you through how to start a business. Our next course runs on November 13 and 14 and to book just visit www.nwes.org.uk/events or call 0845 6099991.

But what’s in store for the shopkeeper of the future? Remember Woolworths, Comet, MFI? In 2016 we spent £81.55bn shopping online.

Drop shipping means you can now “retail” from a spare room with no physical stock to hold and plenty do. Amazon’s Prime Air could soon be delivering your shopping by drone and you can book the family holiday and get your Euros without leaving home (if you need them now you’ve gone contactless).

The High Street is reinventing itself with more takeaways now than in the last decade and of course we all still love a little retail therapy. Shopkeeping hasn’t died, it’s just changed – c’est la vie, as they say in Paris.

PS. If you’ve ever wondered why they drive on the right over there, that’s down to Napoleon too, apparently.

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