Loudhailers, Loudmouths & Leicester – How I Managed to Embarrass Myself

28 APR 2010

by Doug Richard

On Monday I stood on a soapbox with a loudhailer in the town centre of Leicester and hailed anyone and everyone who would listen with my views on the upcoming election and why it’s critical that we make the growth of small business the central pre-occupation of government.

I have written about this extensively before in my Entrepreneurs Manifesto and in other blog posts so I do not want to dwell too long on the underlying message for fear of sounding like a broken record.

But the case, at least to me, is clear. Ultimately all the revenue of government comes from the taxation of business. If you want more revenue you need to increase the tax base. Most, if not all growth in business stems from the growth of small business. Thus, it’s not rocket science, if we want to dig ourselves out of this financial hole we need to encourage and stimulate the growth of small business.

The question is how. If you want to understand the details of my beliefs take a look at the second part of the manifesto called “The Declaration of Rights” (page 5 here). I talk there about:

  • increasing economic freedom for entrepreneurs,
  • removing the dead weight of current government support systems,
  • increasing the ease of family and friends investing small amounts in new businesses,
  • creating much larger incentives for businesses to adopt interns and apprentices,
  • new legal formats for the creation of social enterprises,
  • a legal mandate for government to spend a portion of its procurement on small business
  • and lastly, undoing the pernicious digital economy bill (See “F**k the Digital Economy Bill“) that would hobble broadband and in fact a large scale infrastructure investment in super-fast broadband nationwide.

So I shall leave that there. But I do want to point out that if you want to understand how public relations works; this isn’t a bad case study.

  • We attracted a 10 minute interview on BBC Leicester (Listen here, interview at 2:04:50) ,
  • Coverage in the key daily newspaper, The Leicester Mercury (Read here),
  • We will be appearing on the FT website with a video interview set up as a message to the candidates for Prime Minister. UPDATE: watch the video interview here.
  • The Lord Mayor came down to the soapbox and invited us back to Town Hall for tea and we discussed ways in which the city could help support our forthcoming bootcamp in Leicester on May 10th (Read about it here);
  • We had most of the prospective candidates for Parliament out to hear what we said (at least the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. No one from Labour showed)

In short, we were able to persuade the news media and other people that standing on a soapbox and yelling was a newsworthy activity in its own right and they should pay attention.

In the process I felt an unfamiliar sensation. It was quite peculiar. I did not immediately understand what it could be. I then realised, this is what embarrassment must feel like. Yes, I was definitely feeling embarrassed. My God, I couldn’t remember when I last felt embarrassed (actually I can but my teen years are my private hell and I don’t intend to share them with you).

It is a useful thing to note. It takes shamelessness and sometimes cringing self promotion to get above the noise. I can safely say on all points, we accomplished that.

Long live the revolution.


  1. A well motivating and inspiring lecture.