Why it’s never been easier to start a business in the UK
In light of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Central Working's James Layfield reflects on the UK as a "hospitable environment for the modern entrepreneur"
Like many across the growing business community, I’ve been filled with a sense of pride at the start of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Entrepreneurs have never played a more integral role in the UK economy and today our small businesses provide almost half of all private sector job opportunities and have driven the country’s employment rate to record highs.
This is a testament to the quality of the ideas being established in the UK, but is also reflective of the incredibly favourable climate UK small and medium enterprises currently find themselves in and the wealth of resources on offer to them.
Fantastic support is out there to help you launch your own business and there’s never been a better time to make it happen.
For starters, government policy has become far more favourable to small and medium firms in recent years. The Business Growth Service provides tailored support to help businesses achieve hyper growth, while Innovate UK has continued to provide research and development funding that many tech start-ups have found invaluable. These are tremendous initiatives and I work with businesses every day that have benefitted enormously from this crucial early funding and support.
The Enterprise Bill, unveiled earlier this year, also contained a bevvy of supportive measures for budding entrepreneurs including a pledge to cut £10bn in red tape around access to finance. It was also announced that the government intends to appoint a small business commissioner to tackle late payments, which I know from experience is a longstanding bugbear for many growing businesses.
Local government is also gearing up to roll out the red carpet for entrepreneurs. Plans are underway to award more powers to UK regions and we’ll soon be electing mayors in cities such as Manchester and Sheffield. Mayors will bang the drum for their cities and I expect them to be instrumental in cultivating a nurturing environment to attract and support the best and brightest growing businesses.
It’s also never been easier for entrepreneurs to expand into global markets. Just last week the government rolled out its Exporting Is GREAT campaign with a bus which will travel the UK to provide face-to-face advice and guidance to first-time exporters. The aim is to inspire 100,000 extra UK businesses to sell their goods and services overseas by 2020.
I’ve also been greatly encouraged by the increasingly significant support that the private sector is offering growing businesses. Today’s entrepreneur has access to a variety of accelerator programmes across the UK that provide vital funding for start-ups looking for a burst of growth. It’s a tried and tested model – survival rates for start-ups using accelerators have been estimated to be as high as 92%, nearly 20% higher than that of businesses who choose to go it alone.
Those entrepreneurs seeking long-term growth have also never had it better. We’re currently seeing the rise of the next generation of workspaces that help to grow their members’ businesses in a nurturing environment, a concept many have paid lip service to but a select few are now starting to deliver. These spaces go beyond ‘co-working’ but they’re not ‘incubator’ either.
This combination of supportive policy and abundance of available resources have led to an incredibly hospitable environment for the modern entrepreneur.
Yes, launching your own business remains a difficult and sometimes unforgiving process, but there's a lot to be said for being your own boss and watching your creation thrive. I've created five separate businesses and found each time to be an incredibly satisfying and exciting experience. If you ask any successful entrepreneur there’ll likely say their one regret was not launching their business sooner.
So what are you waiting for? Make it happen.
James Layfield is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Central Working, a leading network of five business clubs across London and Manchester which provides over 1,000 businesses of all sizes with the environment, community and support to thrive.