I grew up the middle child of émigré Scottish and Welsh parents who sold their house in London to start a business in the Kent countryside in the 1970s. Within a few years the business failed catastrophically, and the effects of bankruptcy plagued my parents and, therefore us children, for years. Following a BA degree at Lancaster (political and social science), I applied for a post as an assistant in the Scottish Enterprise Foundation, a newly created centre at the University of Stirling set up by Tom Cannon and later managed by Mike Scott. Tasked with pulling together a resource centre of books and papers about entrepreneurship, I became fascinated reading the accounts of small business ownership, but curious about the rather normative descriptions – so different from my own family’s experience – and the narrow range of individuals who dominated the literature.