Business groups join forces to reassure Britain’s smallest firms over Brexit

A cohort of small business representative groups have joined forces to offer a consistent line of support to Britain’s smallest firms and the self-employed following the EU referendum.

The nine organisations agreed in a meeting on Tuesday/June 28 to coordinate their efforts in the interests of offering positive reassurance to small businesses.

The representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Enterprise Nation, National Enterprise Network, Open to Export, IPSE, The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), the Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales (ICAEW), British Library Business and IP Centre, and Coadec, will work together to offer ideas around what businesses should be doing now to shore up their firm for the future.

Emma Jones, founder of small business support group Enterprise Nation, said: “It’s more important now than ever before for entrepreneurs to maintain optimism and look forwards, not backwards.

“The worst thing we can do is talk ourselves into a recession when formal negotiations leading to exit will take at least two years.

“Inevitably there will be new opportunities – and there are things businesses can do to protect themselves from changes that might affect them in short term and in the future. We have come together to make sure small businesses can easily get hold of the information and advice they need during the current period of uncertainty.”

Romilly Dennys, founder of Coadec said: “We are focused on supercharging our efforts to champion UK startups and the digital economy. We will work closely with tech founders across the UK to deliver a strong policy voice to Government, and ensure digital startups play a leading role in shaping our future.”

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman said: “FSB will work with Government and other partners to ensure the UK’s 5.4 million smaller firms get the best deal for them to do business. At this week’s business summit chaired by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, I stressed the need for immediate action to ensure economic stability, to ensure small businesses can continue to trade and do business. Smaller firms need simple access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people, continued EU funding for key schemes and clarity on the future regulatory framework.

“When the negotiations start, FSB will be a constructive partner and a strong voice, working with other entrepreneur groups and pushing for swift clarity on these crucial points.”

Simon McVicker, director of policy and external affairs at IPSE said: “Now we are leaving the EU, IPSE believes the priorities should be new global trading arrangements, cutting burdensome regulation on small and micro businesses and ensuring that Britain has the most flexible and attractive economy in the world.”

Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at the ICAEW, said: “Whilst there have been no negotiations following the UK vote to leave the EU, the financial markets (currencies and stock exchanges) are already adjusting to the new situation. It is likely that foreign currency movements could affect small business trading position through either sales revenue or costs, so it is more important than ever to monitor financial performance.”

Dawn Whitely, chief executive of the National Enterprise Network said: “The members of National Enterprise Network have supported many hundreds of thousands of people thinking about or already running a business over the past 30 years, they’ve worked with their clients through good economic times and bad and whilst this is undoubtedly unchartered water for us all our membership is nonetheless looking to ensure all the clients they are working with have the best possible opportunity to survive and thrive no matter what! The key is to look for those opportunities wherever they may be, but support and advice will be key in ensuring small businesses can compete on home soil and abroad irrespective of any Brexit negotiation deals and we will be looking to Government to ensure that support is in place.”

Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneurs Network said: “In the short term, political uncertainty is a cost to British businesses and in the medium to long term reduced access to the Single Market could displace economic activity. This Referendum was a vote on whether we should stay in the European Union, not an election upon which we elect a Party based on manifesto policies. As such, The Entrepreneurs Network is calling on the current and next government to strike a deal that’s best for Britain, and that means causing as little damage as possible to the free movement of goods, capital and people, which means staying in the Single Market.”

Detailed advice will be shared by all parties to ensure consistent information is freely available in the public arena.

This was picked up by the Mail on Sunday.

The Challenges of Fast Growth

There are aspects of running a business that you can’t really discuss with your employees. I’ve been in digital media for a decade, in startups for nearly eight years, each of which have grown from 2 or 3 people to 50 within 24 months. And that process has brought certain challenges around hiring, firing, building a team and redundancies.

If you’re growing, you have to hire, which is a time-consuming, exceptionally challenging process. We’re created a framework which allows us to on-board and hire what we feel are the right people, as quickly as possible, while minimising risk. This is the positive side of fast growth, and it’s a model that was put in front of me at a Balderton Capital event on hiring efficiently. Read more

The Entrepreneurs Network launches APPG for Entrepreneurship

Today, the APPG for Entrepreneurship (of which The Entrepreneurs Network is Secretariat) was launched at a reception in the Houses of Parliament.

Entrepreneurs, journalists, politicians and key individuals from within the entrepreneurial ecosystem joined us to hear Business Secretary Sajid Javid extoll the virtues of entrepreneurship, outline how the government is supporting business owners, and discuss how his childhood gave him a unique understanding of the fashion world…

The group, which is chaired by Alan Mak MP, will focus on four key areas in its first 12 months: exporting, enterprise education, female founders and tax reform. Here’s why we became Secretariat. And below is all the press coverage the APPG’s launch received:

Sajid Javid launches All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship, The Guardian

The post-crash entrepreneurial revolution has changed Britain: I want MPs to spur it on further, City A.M.

Alan Mak: Boosting entrepreneurship is key to North’s prosperity, Yorkshire Post

The state of running a firm in Britain – and what role the All Party Parliamentary Group plays, Real Business

Why schools should encourage entrepreneurship, Huffington Post

Sajid Javid launches initiative to give business owners a voice in Parliament,

Government launches Parliamentary group for entrepreneurship, Tech City News

Entrepreneurs call for less tax, less regulation and more skilled workers, Fresh Business Thinking

Alan Mak MP: Entrepreneurs will get Britain to the future first, Politics Home

New Parliamentary group to bridge gap between businesses and politicians, Bdaily

Lowering taxes tops “to-do” list for new Parliamentary business group, Is4Profit



Why we became the Secretariat of APPG for Entrepreneurship

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 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.

Three ways government can unburden enterprise | Annabel Denham writes for Real Business

With the discourse shifting in the entrepreneurial sphere from “startup” to “scale-up”, Annabel Denham unveils three policy reforms which The Entrepreneurs Network is pushing for to help turn entrepreneurial activity into high-growth businesses:

  1. 1. Allow unquoted shares to be included in an Isa wrapper

2. End the National Insurance Contributions system

3. Scrap the seven-year rule for VCTs and EIS

Read her article in full here.

On a mission to make coffee a force for good

Thank you for inviting me to speak on leading with my mission. It was interesting to hear the missions of the entrepreneurs sat around this table. Yet around half aimed to grow a certain amount in a certain timeframe, and this is to misunderstand what a mission is. We all have objectives and goals. A mission is not what you’re trying to do, nor how you’re trying to do it. It’s why.

By way of introduction, Pact Coffee is a coffee delivery service, which operates on a flexible subscription model. We trade directly with some of the best coffee producers across the globe including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Rwanda and Ethiopia. We import their produce, roast it, and deliver it to our customers.

Three and a half years after launch, we are likely to turn over £10m this year and are growing 10 per cent month-on-month. Read more

Plugging the scale-up gap: How to ensure UK startups flourish

Drawing on the recommendations from Scale-up UK: Growing Businesses, Growing our Economya report from Barclays on the future of UK scale-ups, I’ve outlined three steps the government could take to have real impact, yet which remain largely under-exploited:

  1. 1. Loosening regulation on venture debt – a source of funding which plays a significant role in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, yet is subject to regulatory obstacles not faced in the VC sphere;

2. Working with industry to attract foreign companies and investors to the Alternative Investment Market, which lags far behind the highly-successful Nasdaq;

3. Boosting the marketplace for secondary shares by removing stamp duty on secondary purchases of unlisted shares; including private, unlisted companies in Isas and other tax wrappers; and setting CGT on secondary unlisted shares that align with Entrepreneurs’ Relief at 10 per cent.

Read my article in full here.

The FFF Interview: Nancy Cruickshank, founder,

In my latest Huffington Post column, I have the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Cruickshank, the effervescent serial entrepreneur whose latest venture,, is transforming the beauty industry.

Her personalised online beauty shopping service helps female entrepreneurs expand their beauty businesses; offers customers access to thousands of stylists and products; and gives over 40 different beauty brands access to a new market.

When she’s not working on her third venture, she finds time to champion women entrepreneurs (not least through her involvement in our Female Founders Forum), extoll the virtues of the sharing economy, and spend time with her family of four.

Read my interview in full here.

Northern Powerhouse needs the talents of the entire region to succeed | Annabel Denham writes for Yorkshire Post

To mark the launch of The Entrepreneurs Network’s newest paper, Regional Voices: Yorkshire, Annabel Denham outlines in the Yorkshire Post why the Northern Powerhouse initiative must include the whole region, rather than just Manchester.

“At a recent roundtable hosted at PwC and chaired by BIS Select Committee chairman Iain Wright MP, Yorkshire entrepreneurs expressed fears that cities like Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Hull were being overlooked in favour of their neighbours west of the Pennines.

“With the North dreaming big again, as long as efforts are diversified away from Manchester and the skills gap is narrowed, we could still make those dreams a reality.”

Read the article in full here.

Philip Salter talks visas, Osborne and women’s entrepreneurship on The Seed & EIS Hour

In an interview with The Seed & EIS Hour, Philip Salter, director of The Entrepreneurs Network, explains why women-led businesses often struggle to reach the same economic scale as those run by men; why the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget was broadly good for entrepreneurs; and why, if there was one thing the UK government could do to support entrepreneurs, it would be to reform the Entrepreneurs Visa to attract more foreigners to set up businesses here in Britain.