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, MyShowcase.com

In my latest Huffington Post column, I have the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Cruickshank, the effervescent serial entrepreneur whose latest venture, MyShowcase.com, 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.

The FFF Interview: Emma Sinclair, founder, EnterpriseJungle

This week, I caught up with Emma Sinclair – serial entrepreneur, Unicef Business Ambassador and the youngest person to IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

Emma left a successful career at Rothschild to found Mission Capital, which she floated aged 29. Since, she has built two more businesses – Target Parking and EnterpriseJungle.

She has never let her age act as a barrier to her success, and she dismisses claims that female entrepreneurs aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts. Nonetheless, she spends much of her free time championing entrepreneurship across the globe and giving back to the entrepreneurial community.

“I’m happy to do it: I love each and every interesting person, venture and event I cross paths with. I never tire of hearing their stories and experiences.”

Read my interview with Emma in full here.

Exporting opportunities for UK businesses | Philip Salter writes for Virgin StartUp

Many entrepreneurs have set their sights on expanding overseas, but may not know where to start. And, as our director Philip Salter points out in Virgin StartUp, getting advice can be tricky – which is why we’ve partnered with UKTI on its Exporting is GREAT initiative.

“It has been calculated that poor professional advice from third parties and consultants has resulted in one in six small firms losing money in the last year, at a total cost of £6.4bn.”

So where should internationally ambitious entrepreneurs turn to for advice? Read Philip’s article in full here.

Why we should abolish employers’ National Insurance

In response this week’s Budget, I’ve made the case for integrating employers’ national insurance, income tax and employees’ NI.

“Complexity has long been a feature of taxation in Britain, and nowhere is this more manifest than in the National Insurance regime. Constant tinkering over the last 70 years has left it unrecognisable and has reduced the likelihood of the electorate appreciating (i) what their total tax burden is; and (ii) the size of any increase.

“But what makes the NICs regime especially opaque is the employers’ part of national insurance, not least because the incidence falls squarely on employees.” 

This is not to say employers are unburdened – studies have shown that administration alone imposes a significant cost on businesses and disproportionately affects smaller companies:

“SMEs are vital to the UK economy. Cutting costs creates an incentive for them to use their resources more efficiently and to transfer them into more production or more hiring. Further tweaking is not enough.”

Read my Huffington Post column in full here.

What did you think of the Budget? | Annabel Denham gives her views in ConHome

I joined Suella Fernandes MP, Dr Andrew Lilico, Tim Loughton MP and others to give my views on the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget.

“After the burdens to business of a National Living Wage, tax on share dividends, and auto-enrolment on pensions, entrepreneurs were looking for some compensation from the Chancellor in this Budget. On the face of it, Osborne has delivered.”

Read my ConservativeHome comment in full here.

What Budget 2016 means for entrepreneurs

Commenting on today’s Budget, Entrepreneurs Network director Philip Salter said:

“Cuts to growth forecasts may not have been what George Osborne and the country at large wanted, but for entrepreneurs, this was a solid Budget. Reducing corporation tax to 17% by 2020 sends the right signal that Britain is the best place in Europe to build a business, as does the cut to capital gains tax from the higher rate of 28% to 20% and the basic rate from 18% to 10%.

“Abolishing Class 2 National Insurance for 3.4 million self-employed people will act as a fillip for the self employed. But Osborne should have also tackled National Insurance by rolling both employees’ and employers’ NI into income tax. After all, the incidence falls on employees, and the burden falls on those businesses forced to manage the growing bureaucracy of exemptions.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for entrepreneurs and investors was the extension of Entrepreneurs’ Relief to include long term investors in unlisted companies. This should help drive more risk capital into fast-growing companies.

“The cuts to business rates will be celebrated by many in the small business community, but it should be remembered that most economists calculate that the incidence of this tax actually falls on landowners. However, reform to Stamp Duty Land Tax on non-residential property transactions, which the government predicts will see a cut in tax for many small businesses purchasing property, is to be welcomed. Stamp duties are always and everywhere inefficient taxes.”