When it comes to support, entrepreneurs have never had it so good. Successive governments are increasingly valuing their contribution to the economy and there are a growing number of organisations out there doing a brilliant job of supporting their growth.
These organisations include the well established FSB, CBI, BCC, IoD, but also Enterprise Nation, Prelude Group’s Supper Club, the British Library’s Business and IP Centre, and, dare I add, us at The Entrepreneurs Network. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when you start to add up all workspaces, incubators and accelerators up and down the country.
We set up The Entrepreneurs Network three years ago to help bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and policymakers. Through programmes of research, events and lobbying we have grown to fill the gap in the market for an organisation to act as a conduit between two very different constituents – both helping politicians and policymakers at large understand the priorities of entrepreneurs and helping entrepreneurs understand current, changing incoming policies. In essence, we exist to help provide feedback in the making and breaking of policies impacting entrepreneurs.
That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to become the Secretariat for the APPG for Entrepreneurship, which Business Secretary Sajid Javid will launch in the House of Commons today. Alongside the Chair Alan Mak MP, the MPs and Lords making up its Officers and Members, partner organisations and a network of thousands of entrepreneurs, we will work to make Britain the best place in Europe, nay, the world, to start and grow a business.
In the first 12 months we plan to focus on four areas of policy: tax reform, exporting, enterprise education and female founders.
There can be no doubting that the UK has some of the best tax regimes in the world. We lead much of the world with corporation tax rate at 20 per cent, SEIS and EIS, Venture Capital Trusts and Entrepreneurs’ Relief. But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. For example, the seven-year rule for EIS investments is can put older companies at a disadvantage and HMRC is struggling to turn buy ativan from india around requests for Advance Assurance Requests for SEIS and EIS at the same speed as it used to.
On exporting we will survey entrepreneurs in our network for UKTI to see what’s holding back British exporters. On a per capita basis we export £4,773 – significantly less than comparable European countries like the Netherlands (£19,942), Germany (£11,059), France (£7,654) and even Italy (£5,087). UKTI has set up a real-time platform for exporting opportunities as part of its Exporting is GREAT strategy, but policymakers might need to dig a little deeper so that the strategy is a success.
According to data from Beauhurst, only 164 (12 per cent) of the 1,422 deals last year were from companies with at least one female founder, equating to £359m (8 per cent) of the £4.23bn total investment. At The Entrepreneurs Network we run a Female Founders Forum project with Barclays and a group of some of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, looking at why so few women-led businesses scale up. We will increase the scope of this work through the APPG, collaborating with other groups with similar aims.
Over the next 12 months we will also delve into how enterprise is taught in schools. We are mindful of a lot of great work already being done in this space –for example, Founders4Schools, MyBnk Back My Business, Young Enterprise’s Fiver and Tenner Challenges, the Mosaic Challenge, the National Enterprise Challenge, Tycoon in Schools and the School Enterprise Challenge, to name just a few – so first we will call out for input from these organisations on where the gaps are and where the policy consensus is.
These four areas of focus are a roadmap for this APPG – but they’re not a blueprint. As the Secretariat, we will act as a conduit for all the great organisations that want to work through the APPG to improve entrepreneurship in the UK. Governments will come and go – but this APPG will be a strong voice for the long-term success of entrepreneurship in the UK.