With just days until the general election, four young entrepreneurs reveal their thoughts on how the next government could help growing businesses and start-ups.
Samantha Lott is co-founder of Birdie List, a modern day one-of-a kind gift list. Birdie List was shortlisted for the Wedding Industry Awards Best Newcomer 2014 and Samantha was recently made a fellow of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.
She comments, “I think education is key in supporting start-ups and young entrepreneurs. The education system needs to teach entrepreneurship as a legitimate career option. This will help entrepreneurship to become normalised in society and reduce the stigma associated with the risks involved and being a ‘failure’. This will disseminate across the whole ecosystem; more investors becoming comfortable with start-up investments over funds, an employment pool of skilled workers who see the benefits of a start-up vs corporate and customer confidence in the security of using the services of a start-up.”
“Additionally, schemes that make it very appealing for investors to support early stage businesses has certainly made it possible for us to get Birdie List off the ground. More schemes which reduce investor risk in early state enterprises can only be a good thing.”
Olivia Cooper is co-founder of classically stylish British handbag brand Olive Cooper. For Olivia, “Dramatic change is worrying, albeit unlikely. I don’t want there to be a reason for a reduction in purchasing confidence as my business relies on this. However, the most valuable change the Government could make to support small businesses and start-ups would be by reducing business taxes (National Insurance and VAT) so I can spend more time focusing on growing my business.”
Josephine Goube is Director of Partnerships at Migreat, a tech start-up helping migrants move and settle in the five major countries of Europe. Josephine is also Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech, a volunteer association started in 2012 which champions and defends female visibility in the tech industry in London and Europe.
“The UK government has done a great job already supporting entrepreneurs and startups in the last few years,” comments Josephine, adding; “Attracting investors with advantageous terms on investment in small businesses and raising awareness of the potential of entrepreneurship as a career path in universities has had a tremendous impact for the London startup scene.”
“The next UK government should follow on these efforts by continuing to support the young generation in starting entrepreneurial careers in and outside London. This means to continue investing in organisations, universities and charities that teach entrepreneurship at a young age across the UK. It also means allowing more flexible rules on the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs and highly skilled international students that can inspire and support locals to start their companies.”
Mike Bandar is co-founder of Turn Partners which, literally, turns around small businesses. He comments, “It’s undoubtable that the current government’s initiatives has made a strong positive impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially within select sectors and cities. However there is still a lot more work to be done.”
“London has become a strong start-up cluster but high costs and competition for talent forces most start-ups into raising institutional finance as the main way of survival. The government should increase access to enterprise support across the country by better distribution of funds outside of London. Increasing the number of funded incubator programmes and entrepreneur training centres. Universities have successfully increased their graduate employability by offering start-ups and small businesses extra support and funding for hosting paid interns and apprentices. I believe these models should be supported and adopted by the government to further increase graduate employability.”
“Finally, to better aid employers growing teams, employers National Insurance can be reduced or removed for businesses under a certain revenue threshold. Also most support should be provided enabling start-ups to offer better training and qualifications for their staff, building both better businesses and a more skilled workforce.”
These budding business minds have all been part of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.