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Sophie Hobson: What does it mean to be a Londoner and a London business?

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Our editor reflects upon the second birthday of LondonlovesBusiness.com

Follow me @sophiehobson and @londonlovesbiz

What does it mean to be a Londoner? Londoners have dual identities, at a minimum. You describe yourself as a Londoner and a Brit, or a Londoner and a Mancunian, or a Londoner and a Sri Lankan, or Belgian, or Columbian.

How long do you live or work here before you start describing yourself as a Londoner? What precipitates that moment?

I think it’s to do with maps.

London only really becomes familiar when you know road names and tube lines and secret tucked-away wine bars and this great little Vietnamese and that beautiful park with the view, without having to miss all the audio-visual dichotomies and details and busyness and business around you because you’re trapped inside your Google Maps app.

When you know your very own way around this twisting, electrifying, juxtaposition-everywhere city, you’re a Londoner.

Your map of London might be through the almost-impossibly aged streets of the City, knotted and entwined and jumbled like tree roots, shaded by steel-glass towers of architectural wonder. It might be through the blousy, billowy blooms of Columbia Road Flower Market and out into the irony and haircuts of East London. It might be behind a baby-laden pram loaded with freshly-baked sourdough bread and a sheaf of weekend work on your way to coffee in Clapham.

It’s the multiverse of Londons that exist through Londoners that make the city what it is.

Of course, there are certain landmarks along the way that every Londoner comes to know – the London Eye, Tate Modern, the National Gallery, Big Ben, the Shard, Piccadilly Circus.

What’s exciting for us, two years since we launched LondonlovesBusiness.com, is that business is so much a part of everything London does and is. Businesses create and shape and make and sponsor and influence and employ and manage London, in endless ways.

Businesses are London’s private sector, but even in the public and charitable sectors they are indispensable and intrinsically intertwined because of the expertise, services, goods and funding they are able to provide.

There are more than 840,000 businesses in London making this incredible city everything it is today. Doing business in London is not just about doing business in London, though. We are an immensely international city – one in three Londoners was born overseas, as it happens. Our stock exchange is the most international in the world. We also have a great responsibility to the rest of the country. London contributes around a fifth to the UK economy. The average Londoner contributes a whopping 70% more to the economy than those outside the capital.

London’s role on the UK and world stages is hugely important in cultural, economic, political and social terms.

All of which makes us at LondonlovesBusiness.com very proud to be the online newspaper serving London’s business community.

More than two million of you have visited us since we launched in September 2011 – that’s the equivalent of one in four Londoners, though a good portion of you are in fact based outside the capital and a fair few outside the country too.

We have always aimed to make you think, smile, raise your eyebrows, question, and ultimately take action to do better business in London.

Our wider vision is to bring together London’s business community to inspire the private and public sectors to create opportunity, further innovation and drive growth.

We’ve tried to bring you provocative features and investigations that run counter to conventional thinking where we think it needs to be challenged; interviews with the entrepreneurs really shaping the capital, both well-known, more underground and up-and-coming, as well as plenty of politicians too; all the latest business news that we think is most relevant and interesting for you; London property insights and trends; insightful and exciting comment pieces from some of the best in business; London lifestyle and culture with a business twist; indexes of the very best in London; and much more besides.

Then there are our awards. Our inaugural London Loves Excellence Awards in June saw Pret-A-Manger, Addison Lee, Zoopla, Brasserie Bar Co and SwiftKey among our winning and highly-commended companies. Theo Paphitis, Willie Walsh, Karren Brady, Tim Campbell, Michelle Mone and many more joined us on the night.

Our London Loves Talent Awards (deadline next Friday!) will be just as prestigious, and we’re proud to bring together another illustrious panel of judges, chaired by Tim Campbell MBE, to celebrate workforce development, talent, skills and leadership.

We’re also delighted to have launched our Securing Britain series of print publications this year, with Securing Britain’s Talent due out in October, as well as our Dynamic Roundtables.

Both projects bring together London’s most experienced and entrepreneurial business leaders to tackle some of the biggest problems our country faces, and we’re very proud to have been the platform for so many game-changing ideas so far.

We’d be very grateful for any feedback you have on what we’re doing here – please do email me at Sophie [dot]Hobson [at]londonlovesbusiness [dot]com with any thoughts.

Here’s to many more years to come of LondonlovesBusiness.com, and thank you all for reading.

Sophie Hobson
Editor




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