Entrepreneurs of all shapes

Newton comes from the classic mould: restless, awkward, driven, demanding.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It is a sign of our security-obsessed times that this year's winner of the MT Top 100 Entrepreneurs is the Biggest Brother of them all: the low-profile king of CCTV in Britain, Michael Newton. From the high street to home to work, we are watched by those all-seeing cameras wherever we roam, and Newton has cashed in on this demand big time.

Newton, who is 44 and based in Cheshire, comes from that classic entrepreneurial mould: restless, awkward, driven, demanding. He fell out in spectacular fashion with his earlier backer 3i, he drives in the Le Mans 24-hour race and he won't be satisfied until he is the world's first CCTV billionaire, having taken on and defeated the American giant Honeywell in the process.

Imagine what it must be like to work for him. 'I have been known to say my business is not a democracy,' he has said. 'But I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a dictator.'

This year's list is especially interesting. We have individuals in everything from beer to building and from sports shoes to software. Their ages range from 33 to 77, and 22 women appear in the 100. Company turnover ranges from £7 million to more than £4 billion, but it is the entrepreneurs' vitality quotient that we really measure. By the way, our winner last year, Ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija, has just sold the company, of which he owned 40%, for a cool £201 million. You can bet that he won't be sitting in the Maldives twiddling his thumbs and nursing a pina colada. Expect to see him back in the MT Top 100 with another new company before long.

One man who won't have any time for rest and relaxation in the next 12 months is Peter Beresford, the new UK boss of McDonald's. There cannot be many tougher jobs in Britain at the moment than running this fast food company. McDonald's has become the nanny state's whipping boy, with everyone from dieticians, environmentalists to feature film makers on its back.

Beresford is McDonald's through and through - if you pricked him, his veins would run ketchup. My nine-year-old son, having nagged me senseless for years to get him Happy Meal toys, would now be mortified if he was seen by his friends inside a McDonald's. This goes to the heart of its problem.

Finally, permit me a quick bit of shameless self-promotion: I have just been awarded a British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) Editor of the Year gong. We last won this accolade in 2001 and it's an honour to get it back. While I like to think of myself as reasonably entrepreneurial, what we do here is very much a team game. MT has been made into what it is not just by the person at the top of the masthead, but all those below as well. Happy New Year.

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