Here and Now

Though women make up just a fifth of business owners, we are seeing increasing numbers setting up companies. Though all-female teams receive just a penny in every pound of venture capital investment, Here and Now, the latest report from the Female Founders Forum, reveals that the share of funding to women-led firms has doubled in less than a decade. For some, the perception may be that male-led firms outperform, but our follow-on funding data show women are just as bankable an investment.

Future Founders

In partnership with Octopus Group, The Entrepreneurs Network have commissioned ComRes polling of over 1,500 young people (aged 14-25) to better understand the aspirations, intentions, and motivations of the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Future Founders: Understanding the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs found:

  • Over half (51%) of British young people (aged 14-25) have thought about starting (or already have started) a business. A further third (35%) say they have not thought about it but are open to the idea and just 15% say they have not thought about it and don’t think they ever will.

  • Young people are more likely to consider starting or have started a company if they are attending (65%) or have graduated from university (63%) compared to 18-25 year olds who haven’t attended university (53%).

  • A desire ‘to be your own boss’ (86%) and the ‘freedom to do what I want’ (84%) are the top motivations for 14-25 year olds who have started or thought about starting companies. This is closely followed by ‘being passionate about a particular idea or cause’ (83%) and ‘wanting to make the world a better place and/or make a positive difference’ (76%). ‘Wanting to become wealthy’ is still a motivation for Generation Z (76%) but young people appear to be driven by a desire for meaning, not money.

  • Exposure to entrepreneurship is a key driver of entrepreneurial intention. Respondents who have thought about starting or started a company are more likely to have a family member or friend who is a business owner (57% vs 47% who have not thought about it) and seven in ten (68%) say that having a family member or friend who is an entrepreneur has made them more likely to consider starting a business.

  • 57% of young people could not name an entrepreneur who inspires them. Of those who could, Lord Sugar was the most popular choice (7.9%), closely followed by Richard Branson (6.5%). Elon Musk came third with 2.6%. Bill Gates (2.2%) and Steve Jobs (1.7%) were also named repeatedly. Of those who gave an answer, Kylie Jenner was the most commonly named female entrepreneur (1.1%).

Job Creators

While just 14% of UK residents are foreign-born, 49% of the UK’s fastest-growing startups have at least one foreign-born co-founder.

A new analysis of Britain’s 100 fastest growing companies highlights the massive contribution of immigrant entrepreneurs to the UK. It reveals:

  • 49% of the UK’s fastest-growing startups have at least one immigrant co-founder.

  • 9 of the UK’s 14 startup unicorns have at least one foreign-born co-founder.

  • The fast-growing immigrant founded companies of the Top 100 have attracted a combined £3.7bn in investment.

The report calls on the government to reform the visa system in three key ways:

  • Restore the Tier 1 Post-Study Work Visa and allow international students to work in the UK up to two years after graduation before moving on to another visa.

  • Reform the Tier 1 Investor Visa by lowering the minimum qualifying investment threshold for investment in UK startups, scale-ups and venture capital funds.

  • Ensure that the Start Up and Innovator Visas are implemented successfully.

Management Matters

Too often viable companies fail due to bad management even when the fundamental idea behind the business is sound. A body of academic research that finds good management is a better predictor of a firm’s success than R&D spending, IT spending or how skilled their workforce is.

Whether or not firms consistently monitor and improve their processes, set and revise targets, and incentivise employees through merit-based hiring, firing and promotion procedures explains almost a third of the differences in productivity between and within countries.

Report author Sam Dumitriu recommends practical reforms including tax breaks for self-funded work-related training to encourage greater investment in management capability to reduce the rate of unnecessary business failure. Put simply, when businesses are well-managed they create more jobs, pay higher wages, and sell better (and cheaper) products. Better managed workers aren’t just more productive and better paid, they’re happier too.

APPG for Entrepreneurship: Enterprise Education

To thrive in the modern world, Britain’s next generation must be adaptable to change. Up until relatively recently, a job for life was both possible and preferable. It’s increasingly neither. Universities have been central to many of the great intellectual revolutions across history – now they must embrace enterprise education to imbue students with the necessary enterprising skills to flourish in the twenty-first century.

Government has a role to play. Political action — or inaction — has significant repercussions for how enterprise education is delivered. This report aims to inform the government about the successes, challenges and opportunities for delivering enterprise education at universities. Its recommendations are based on responses to a Call for Evidence and aim to work with the grain of the latest thinking and practice.

Human Capital and Business Stay-Up

In recent decades, governments worldwide have employed an array of different policy tools to try to increase start-up rates in their countries, but relatively little attention has been paid to how to support ‘business stay-up’. In that it is among the fastest growing small businesses that employment growth, innovation and productivity gains are strongest, this lag in the progress of entrepreneurship policy should give us cause for concern.

Of those approaches to supporting business sustainability that have been tried, efforts to improve management practices have shown promise. This report adds to a growing body of evidence in this area, new research supporting the importance of human capital to entrepreneurial outcomes.

Author Gabriel Heller Sahlgren’s research substantiates a relationship between business owners’ specific areas of qualification and the growth of their enterprise. Moreover, and more importantly, he further finds that not all areas of qualification are equal in terms of stimulating success. The training obtained through programmes in business, social science, and law, and in technical areas, such as engineering, appear to lead to employee growth – whereas programmes relating to other subject areas do not.

Accordingly the author argues that governments should seek ways to incentivise training in high impact areas, and in management skills specifically. e most promising approaches, he finds, appear to focus on task-related training, in both an operational and specific sense. To maximise the probability of firm success, owners must therefore learn the operational skills of organisation and management, while at the same time keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the field in which they operate.

APPG for Entrepreneurship: Women in Leadership

The UK needs more early-stage businesses achieving longer-term survival and scale. Supporting female entrepreneurs is not just about increasing the number of women-owned businesses: it is about raising their performance and growth potential. Not only will this lead to more established SMEs contributing more to economic growth, but they could also serve as inspiration to young girls.

As more and more women turn promising ideas into thriving businesses, they will make up a greater share of entrepreneurial role models, thereby encouraging more women into the pipeline – from schoolgirls considering STEM to founders scaling big. According to our survey, less than a third of women now think gender has been a hindrance to success. However, the figure for men is a negligible 1 per cent. 

Demographics and Entrepreneurship

Developed countries face a long-term decline in entrepreneurship that is at least partially driven by demographics. Since demographic trends cannot be easily reversed, countries will have to improve the environment in which entrepreneurs and businesses operate, to encourage more and better entrepreneurs.

This series of essays are published in partnership with Canada’s Fraser Institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the US and the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia.

Mentoring Matters

In partnership with Barclays, this year the Female Founders Forum focused on mentoring. This report is based on the insights of speed-mentoring events held across the country, which were attended by both experienced and novice female entrepreneurs. Also, following up the theme of last year's Untapped Unicorns report, we have updated updated the data on female founders' access to equity finance.

Parliamentary Snapshot 2017

This is the fourth Parliamentary Snapshot. It uncovers MPs’ views on policies impacting entrepreneurs, providing unique insights on the opinions and working knowledge of the House of Commons. Once again, this report is supported by Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB).

Key finding include:

  • 66% of Conservative MPs think “leaving the EU through a hard Brexit” would be good for entrepreneurship, only 8% of Labour MPs think the same.

  • 71% of Labour MPs think “remaining within the EU” would be positive for entrepreneurship in the UK, only 10% of Conservative MPs think the same.

  • Greatest divergence in four years of this survey between the two main parties on lowering personal taxes, with 91% of Conservative MPs thinking it would be good for entrepreneurship, compared to just 26% of Labour MPs.

  • Over four years of the survey, Parliament has shown growing cross-party support for a more liberal immigration policy for British businesses. “Making it easier for entrepreneurs to move to the UK” is the second most popular change for MPs (79% of MPs are positive and 4% just negative), and we have seen increasing support from both parties for “making it easier to hire skilled workers from abroad” (62% of MPs are positive and 14% negative).

  • Although MPs’ knowledge about initiatives to support entrepreneurs have risen against previous years, too many initiatives remain unknown. 54% of the MPs have never even heard of Venture Capital Trusts or don’t know enough about it to know whether it’s effective.

A Boost For British Businesses

Sixty-six entrepreneurs and experts have put their name to a letter calling on the next Government to put together a coherent plan to boost Britain’s businesses.

The letter supports this detailed policy report, which includes contributions from the Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, Nesta, Adam Smith Institute, Sage, IPSE, SQW, Coadec and Nesta.

The policy asks are at the vanguard of research in the UK; don’t rely on the vagaries of Brexit negotiations; could be adopted by all political parties; and wouldn’t put a significant strain on the exchequer. The project is sponsored by Sage.

Untapped Unicorns

Studies have shown that access to finance remains a persistent barrier to female entrepreneurs. We partnered with Barclays on the Female Founders Forum – a group of some of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, who’ve joined heads to come up with tangible, actionable recommendations for tackling the funding issue. The project’s first report, Untapped Unicorns, outlines how Britain can scale up female entrepreneurship.

Female Founders Forum: Briefing Papers

The Female Founders Forum is a group of some of the UK's most successful female entrepreneurs. These briefing paper cover the four roundtables we hosted at Barclays, Octopus Investments, Parliament and the London Stock Exchange. The ideas from these roundtables formed the basis of the Untapped Unicorns report. The Female Founders Forum is run in partnership with Barclays.

  • Read the Barclays roundtable here.

  • Read the Octopus roundtable here.

  • Read the Parliament roundtable here.

  • Read the LSE roundtable here.

Regional Voices: Yorkshire

This briefing paper is based on the edited highlights of a roundtable discussion. It took place at the Leeds office of PwC with business leaders invested in promoting Yorkshire as a hub for entrepreneurship. Our principal guest was Iain Wright MP, chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee. The ideas presented were designed to feed into his work on the committee, the Northern Powerhouse initiative and wider debates on how to support entrepreneurship across the whole of the country.