Building businesses is like a highly addictive drug

YOU had me at &ldquo;hello&rdquo;, says Ren&eacute;e Zellweger&rsquo;s character to Tom Cruise after he proclaims his love for her in Jerry Maguire. Love at first sight should be savoured; I fall in love once decade and relish it.&ensp;But, like most entrepreneurs, I fall in love with my business too &ndash; only every day.&ensp;Like Zellweger, I can remember the moment when my rational side left me, and it was love from there on out.<br /><br />Lots of entrepreneurs take a punt on ventures that are closely tied to their identities.&ensp;One well-known British entrepreneur I know recently told me of the huge difficulties he had as he was building his firm: he had 104 credit cards and 52 loans to keep the firm afloat.&ensp;And his wife was working at the private school for free in order to keep their children there.<br /><br />They weren&rsquo;t defeated though. They kept going.&ensp;Now profitable, no one knows or would believe how they would survive.<br /><br />Many entrepreneurs have scars from business ventures they barely escaped from.&ensp;I had dinner with Bill Grodnik who runs Davinci Virtual PA recently.&ensp;He recounted how his second business in traffic lights really was a space he didn&rsquo;t know anything about. I could see that he survived &ndash; just. Virtual PA is a company whose time has come; since launching earlier this year, Davinci now represents over 200 companies in the UK, forecasting to hit 600 by end of 2009.&ensp;&ensp; Consider: 99 per cent of UK companies employ fewer than 49 people. Entrepreneurs and SMEs account for &pound;1.4 trillion turnover &ndash; more than half UK GDP. Davinci says &ldquo;tear up your lease contract and fire your receptionist; they can reduce workplace overheads from 40 per cent to as little as four per cent&rdquo;.<br /><br />For as little as &pound;150 a month, businesses can enjoy the benefits of a complete virtual office package including support services, including a live receptionist. Why would someone like Bill Grodnick, who has made money in earlier businesses, continue to build new ones? Is the virtual PA market really that fascinating?<br /><br />The truth is that building businesses is a drug.&ensp;It is highly addictive to try to control the odds.<br /><br />Newspapers have been full of MPs&ensp; saying they were unaware that their expense claims were problematic. The average entrepreneur may not take out 104 credit cards, but they certainly don&rsquo;t have a sugar daddy to pay the expenses when times are tough.&ensp;Contrast the passion of betting it all with &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think anyone would mind; it&rsquo;s within the rules&rdquo;.<br /><br />And therein lies the reason why government must be downsized.<br /><br />Don&rsquo;t waste a good scandal. Revolution may not be in your nature, people of Great Britain, but an opportunity of this order to shrink government may not come again for a while.Use it wisely.<br /><br />Julie Meyer is chief executive of Ariadne Capital. She is a client of Davinci Virtual PA.