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The ups and downs of the past 18 months have delivered to our doorsteps all sorts of unwanted challenges and put many careers on hold. It has often been exhausting navigating regulations, moods (both personal and national) and just getting stuff done. But it has also brought a few pleasant revelations. And now, as we finally seem to be breaking free from coronavirus’s grasp – lifting our eyes to the horizon once again – an odd thing is happening. People are asking themselves, “Am I really going to go back to my old life or is this the chance, a unique chance, to do something new?” For many people, that new thing seems to be having a go at finally starting their own business or switching up the company that they already helm.

The impetus for some is a desire to leave the city for a rural idyll; for others it’s the fact that opportunity is staring them in the face – there’s a boarded-up shop on the high street, for instance, that would look much nicer with their name painted on the shingle. For many it’s a recognition that a business can do good: could they make a fashion brand that treads more lightly on the planet than its rivals? Could they build a company that helps to generate employment and change a town that’s close to their hearts? And yes, for others it’s simply that their old career has vanished and they need to make a living. But whatever the reason, it feels as though this is a moment when numerous employees will become entrepreneurs. And, as always, the monocle team is here with some encouraging words.

For this outing of The Entrepreneurs we have spun around the globe to find 25 business owners whose tales we hope will offer inspiration, insights and even things to be wary of if you are contemplating joining their entrepreneurial gang. Some of those in our line-up have inherited family businesses that need fixing, while others are still earning their spurs. But in all of their stories comes a sense of the determination that’s needed to be your own boss.

Elsewhere in the issue we have our Big Interview series, where we sit down with four business owners who are going against the grain, including Yuichiro Hori, the Japanese owner of furniture brand Stellar Works, who is determined to prove that “Made in China” can be the mark of luxury; and Beks Ndlovu, ceo of African Bush Camps, who wants to shake up his sector’s offering and change the way in which safari businesses are run. For our Expo, we head to the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland to meet the business owners who, despite the chilly climes, are making the region a hotbed of clean industry. We also check in on the players who are reinventing the nightclub, investigate the new stripped-back fashion brands and meet the graduates with the next big ideas.

So read on, take notes, ask yourself some big questions and wonder: do I have what it takes? Can I become an entrepreneur? Now is your time. 

PS: If you like the world of business and our inspirational take on creating your own firm, then we have some good news. We have produced a whole book on the subject – ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’ – which you can order now at monocle.com/shop. It could provide the welcome shove that you might just need to say goodbye to the nine-to-five or set a friend, partner, daughter or son on a new path.

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The people who are doing business better

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