Peter Jones: "Innovation means being better than your competitor"

Jones welcomes us backstage at Birmingham's Symphony Hall and he's beaming from ear to ear. He's just shaken hands with the latest batch of eager entrepreneurs to pass through the doors of his academy and out into what Jones believes will be a thriving career of creating businesses and boosting the UK economy.

"For any economy to be a success, there has to be successful businesses. For that you need enterprising individuals and that's what I'm helping to create," says Jones. "I don't believe being entrepreneurial is a skill you're born with. I think it's something you can be taught. Here at the Peter Jones Academy, we're providing the first foundations."

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy is now on offer in 36 colleges throughout the UK and its success backs up his point, but shouldn't it be the job of the curriculum to teach young people, not Peter Jones? "The government need to stand up and be counted," says Jones. "They've got to embed enterprising in the national curriculum."

We can't help but feel that David Cameron and co should take notice. After all, it's clear Jones knows a thing or two about business, with live investments in over 50 companies.

One tip from his years of investing in companies is that it's the individual who matters most, not the business idea itself. "One common theme in all my businesses is the individuals running them are all extremely smart. It's the biggest thing for me, as it's these people who are going to take the business forward, he says.

"There are a few occasions when I've invested in a business where the people haven't been that great, but I knew I could make a business by working around them. But without doubt the first thing I look for in a business plan or pitch is the people."

He also feels starting a business can be simplified and that the start-up community's obsession with innovation should be altered slightly.

"For me innovation is about doing something better than your nearest competitor. It's not about bringing out a new product or service. If you innovate in that way, there's only going to be one result. You end up being the market leader."

He's tackling education and making a significant contribution to the economy with his numerous investments, but Jones isn't done yet - he has one more grand plan to save British finance.

"I would love to start the bank of Peter Jones," exclaims Jones. "I would have Alan Sugar as my partner. He's old, wise and I'd like him on my team, I'd love to work with Alan Sugar. Myself and Alan could take on the world."

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