By Claire West

Are there three people in your relationship — you, your partner and your iPhone? From the bedroom to the gym and even on the beaches of foreign shores, a Blackberry or iPhone is often never far from an entrepreneur’s side.

Apple has sold 21.17 million iPhones worldwide and last week RIM, the Canadian technology firm behind the BlackBerry, has unveiled a new mass-market version of its popular phone.

It seems advances in new business technologies mean there is now little limitation (or escape) for business owners and managers. But what about those people for whom PDAs, Blackberrys, iPhones and computers seem an alien world? Can a technophobe really make it as a successful entrepreneur in today’s digital age?

Self-made millionaire Charlie Mullins, boss of Pimlico Plumbers, admits technology is not his strong point. He says: “I believe most entrepreneurs are control freaks, so I understand why these tools, which allow you to keep across your business night or day and no matter where you are in the world, are proving so popular.

“I on the other hand, don’t even own a computer. I never have. And I wouldn’t know how to switch one on even if I did! My mobile is the only piece of kit I use and I remember when Pimlico got its first computer back in the 80s — it was a thing to be marvelled at!

“But no matter how clever computers are, they can’t make decisions for you and they don’t have enthusiasm. That’s the job of an entrepreneur and our businesses live or die by our ability to spot the opportunities and make decisions. I concentrate on what I do best and surround myself by others who excel in this area, making sure I get the best of both worlds.

“The problem with all this new fangled technology is that you risk losing the personal side of good old fashioned face-to-face management. And to me, a return to a more traditional way of working wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

Trevor Honeyman, Chairman of the Honeyman Group, a leading pharmaceutical process support specialist based in Barnard Castle, County Durham, said: “I think it’s very hard for an entrepreneur in today’s market to reject the use of communications devices like PDAs or wireless laptops. Business is moving far too quickly to wait for me to get back to my desk to check my emails.

“I always have my Blackberry with me, it keeps me in touch and sometimes ahead of the game, wherever I am in the world. Entrepreneurs are always switched on and aware of what it happening in their business. I’ll even take it on holiday with me, to be ahead of the game when I get back.

“Technology is at the heart of the pharmaceutical sector. Whether it’s the products and services we deliver or the business and communications methods we employ, it would be impossible to live without it.”