21 Leaders for the 21st century: Entrepreneurs

21 Leaders for the 21st century: Entrepreneurs - If one phrase sums up the modern entrepreneur it is the three words that defined the dress code of provincial discos in the 1970s: casual but smart. The entrepreneurs on our list affect a kind of studied, n

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

If one phrase sums up the modern entrepreneur it is the three words that defined the dress code of provincial discos in the 1970s: casual but smart. The entrepreneurs on our list affect a kind of studied, nonchalant cool that is de rigueur among thirtysomething tycoons; they dress in chinos and open-necked shirts as much as in suits and ties, and they like to emphasise work as play rather than as a hard slog.

Richard Branson, with his sweaters, beard and easy charm, is their role model, rather than an older, stiffer generation of entrepreneurs personified by people such as Lord Hanson, James Goldsmith or Charles Forte. But that's not to say that today's models don't display many of the classic features of the entrepreneurial personality - they like to play the outsider railing against the system, a role played to perfection by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of easyJet. They also use a lot of showmanship, deploying every weapon possible to publicise both themselves and their companies.

These are skills demonstrated artfully, although in their different ways, by Shami Ahmed, the founder of Joe Bloggs jeans, and by Charles Dunstone, the founder of the Carphone Warehouse. As with many entrepreneurs, their lives and their companies easily merge into one - great when the company is doing well, but dangerous when it is doing badly.

Reuben Singh, 24 - Miss Attitude

Starting when he was just 17, Singh built his clothing company into a national chain in just three years. He sold it in February 1999 and is now looking to help set up other young businesses

Stelios Haji-Iannou, 33 - easyJet

Famous for his brash, no-frills airline, Haji-Iannou has recently diversified into warehouse-sized internet cafes

Shami Ahmed, 37 - Joe Bloggs

He made his name with his clothing chain by offering the youth market the right clothes at the right price. Ahmed's task force work encourages young entrepreneurs

Tony Allan, 36 - The Bank Group Restaurants

The man behind London's fashionable mega-restaurant, Bank, Allan has more recently opened Fish! in south London, with more set to open.

He also plans to take the concept abroad

Hugh Osmond, 37 - Punch Taverns

Rising to prominence alongside Luke Johnson at PizzaExpress, Osmond is the audacious takeover king responsible for revitalising the dark, smoky pub world

Charles Dunstone, 35 - The Carphone Warehouse

Having spotted the potential of mobiles when most considered them a novelty, Dunstone went into the business. He now owns the most successful and prominent of the high-street mobile phone retailers

Matthew Freud, 36 - Freud Communications

The PR legend behind names such as Chris Evans and Geri Halliwell, Freud now has multiple plans in e-commerce.

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