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Spark Up in Liverpool makes much of creating 500 SuperBusinesses in 5 years across the Liverpool City Region. In a region whose business support services have generated many types of business and entrepreneurial activity, what is it that will make a SuperBusiness?

On one very straight forward level it has to mean starting up businesses which generate super levels of employment, turnover and profitability; businesses which can make a major contribution to the regional business economy. But being a SuperBusiness is much, much more than the bottom line metrics and measurable outputs.

SuperBusinesses will not merely operate in the Liverpool City region: they will have an acutely developed moral compass which which help shape it for the better: This means for the social and cultural ‘better’ as well as the economic ‘better’.

SuperBusinesses could shape either the region from hell – much like Tokyo in Bladerunners – or they could shape an en-nobled, ennobling, civilised and civilising space in which people’s entrepreneurial behaviour is directed towards the greater good. A region with 500 SuperBusinesses could either be filled with wide boys, hoods and spivs – or it could be like Venice. Or both. The choice is ours.

So what will tell us whether we’re seeing a SuperBusiness emerge in the next 5 years? And what might be the defining characteristics of those ventures? There will be several indicators which tell us whether we’re dealing with a SuperBusiness or just a bunch of charlatans out to make a fast buck and they’ll be seen in their responses to the following questions:

How are you engaging with the poor, excluded and disillusioned?
How are you giving air time and political influence to individual spirits?
How are you connecting nano-, micro- and mini- SMEs with the larger corporate players?
How are you recognising and responding to local culture – not just traditional, mainstream arts and museums but the myriad of ways in which people go about things and create value, difference and impact?
How are you valuing diversity and difference?
How are you not only tolerating dissent but appreciating it?
How are regulating yourselves and your public behaviours?
How are you valuing risk, challenge and uncertainty?
How are you engaging with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (Wikipedia)

This is not just a job for the entrepreneurs and eager business men and women. If we want our SuperBusinesses to shape our city region we’re probably best starting at home. Our own businesses, whether super or not, could also begin to address those questions. If we want those SuperBusinesses to emerge from the gloom of the recent recession and spark up our region, we will all need to become at least a little bit ‘super’ in our own businesses for once in a while too.

For more information about Spark Up, please visit the website here.